Celebrant: The Lord is in our midst. With peace of mind, let us bring our needs to Him.
That the Kingdom of God ushered into our world by the coming of Christ may turn away the destructive power of terrorism and war, we pray to the Lord...
That elected leaders may have wisdom, courage, and sincere concern for those they represent, we pray to the Lord...
That couples may experience the joy that comes with every new life, and in that joy find strength to overcome the difficulties they may face, we pray to the Lord…
That those who are burdened by anxiety may experience God's own peace, and the joy of His presence, we pray to the Lord...
That the sick and dying may be comforted by the love of God and the Christian community, we pray to the Lord...
Father, you call your people to rejoice
at the coming of Your Son.
Make our joy complete as you grant these petitions.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
When the year 1000 was about to dawn, people fled to mountains, expecting the return of Christ. When 2000 came, people feared major computer -- and hence societal -- breakdowns. Neither happened. Yet both moments in history remind us of something deeper, the lesson of Advent. Advent means "coming." The Lord wants us to anticipate and prepare for His coming, not as something that we hinge on a particular date or identify with a particular calamity, but as an ordinary aspect of our daily Christian living. On the one hand, we know He is coming; on the other, we don't know when. Yet every moment is an opportunity to make that coming more central to our lives. Lord, may we welcome you daily in your Word, your Sacraments, and in all our brothers and sisters!
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As Christmas draws closer, the Church’s liturgy today emphasizes the theme of joy, which is not simply a happiness based on good circumstances, but a profound exultation of spirit based on the salvation that comes from God himself. Every human spirit longs for joy, but often does not know how to find it. Instead, we are all too aware of the things that rob us of joy and peace, and the evils, both in our own lives and in the world, from which we need to be saved.
Advent is about the expectation of complete salvation. It is not a time that we pretend that Christ has not come and try to imagine welcoming him for the first time; rather, it is a time when, acknowledging that Christ has already come, we await the full unfolding of the effects of the salvation he brings. That’s what the first and second readings today refer to. “He has turned away your enemies…you have no further misfortune to fear…Have no anxiety at all…” People may find these assurances unrealistic, but they are not. For one thing, the coming of Christ has destroyed the power of sin and death at its roots. No matter what misfortunes may still happen, or what causes of anxiety may still torment us, the fact is that we always have access to God. That is why we dismiss anxiety from our minds. He has baptized us in the Holy Spirit, as John the Baptizer promised (today’s Gospel). That Holy Spirit gives us total access to God, to an understanding of his word, and to the grace of salvation. Hence, no matter what is happening in our lives, we can say “Merry Christmas.”
The total salvation Christ brings, which is unfolding each day, is physical as well as spiritual. The whole universe will be transformed. All physical violence, such as abortion, will be overcome. Therefore, we rejoice now, as we embrace the Christ who has already come, and as we wait in joyful hope for him to come again.