For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://usccb.org/bible/readings/120218.cfm
This weekend we begin the season of Advent and a new liturgical year. We are on a three year cycle for our Sunday readings, and each cycle features a different Gospel. This is year C so we read Luke’s Gospel. (We read Matthew’s Gospel in year A and Mark’s Gospel in year B. We read John’s Gospel primarily during the Easter season and to supplement Mark’s Gospel, which is the shortest Gospel.)
In our Gospel this weekend, Luke speaks about the end times. This type of literature is known as apocalyptic literature. Usually it was written to people who were suffering persecution. It uses very vivid, symbolic language to offer people hope during this time of persecution. It reminded them that despite the sufferings of the present, all eventually would be well. It also cautioned people not to lose heart but to stay true to God. This is the message of today’s Gospel. “But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”
Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah. The section we read this weekend offers hope to the people of Israel during a time of when they were being threatened by outside forces. The words of Jeremiah remind them that God will be true to God’s covenant and the promises God made to their ancestors. “The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah ……………….In those days, Judah shall be safe and Jerusalem shall dwell secure.”
Our second reading this weekend is taken from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians. In the section we read this weekend, Paul prays that the Lord will make the Thessalonians “increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- Why are so many people fascinated with the end times?
- What gives you hope and/or confidence that God will be true to his promises?
- What do you think Paul means when he prays that people’s hearts will be strengthened?