Reflection: First Sunday of Advent

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Tuesday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church


[1st Reading – Is.2:1-5; Ps.121; 2nd Reading – Rom.13:11-14; Gospel – Mt.24:37-44]


Our preparation for Christmas begins with this first Sunday of Advent and the correct attitude we should have is reflected in today’s readings. The first and the second readings are telling us to prepare ourselves to receive the Lord when he comes. The gospel is telling us to “stay awake”, but it also goes further – insisting much more on the “coming” of the Son of Man.

It is interesting that in the gospel reading, Matthew, the gospel writer, makes use of the verb “to come” six times. He only uses it once in the past tense, when he talks about the Flood in the Old Testament, but uses it five times in the present and future tense: he uses it when he talks about the burglar that would ‘come’ unexpectedly; he uses it for the Master who ‘comes’ at an unknown hour; he uses it to tell us something about “when the Son of Man comes” and lastly he uses an emphatic present tense of the verb to tell us that “the Son of Man is coming”. The insistence presented by

Matthew is very significant because it is not only an action that the Son of Man is to do, but it is also an assurance that he will do it – He is coming. It is not a statement of an event that has passed. No, it is referring to an event that is going to take place and whatever the circumstances may be, He is coming! Entwined with the theme of the coming of Son of Man, we also have other secondary pieces of information telling us how he is coming. Not ‘if’, because we know that he is coming… but ‘how’ he is coming. Jesus says that he is coming “as it was in Noah’s day.” In Noah’s days, even though the people were pre-warned about the flood and what was going to happen, they still ignored the warnings and the result is that the flood swept them away! Jesus is saying that it will be the same when the Son of Man comes: even though His coming is foretold, not everyone will be ready and waiting for him and those who are found to be “not expecting him” will be taken away (or as in Noah’s days swept away) while those who are ready and found to “be expecting him” will be saved (like Noah and his family).

Jesus’ disciples knew very well who Jesus was referring to when he spoke about this “Son of Man” because they have had the privilege of having experiences of Jesus in their close relationship with Him. Maybe they could not fully appreciate and understand what Jesus meant when he said that the Son of Man is coming, but they could understand very well what Jesus meant when he said that they were to stay awake and be prepared to meet the Master. They could only fully appreciate and understand what Jesus meant by the “when” until after Jesus’ resurrection, when they are filled with the Holy Spirit.

We, too, are unaware of when the Lord is coming in our life. During Advent, we are busy preparing ourselves for his birth amongst us, but are we also preparing ourselves to truly receive him in our hearts?

“Lord, give us the light that we need to recognise our true level of preparation for your coming amongst us and within us so that when you are with us you find us ready and expecting you. Thank you Lord!”


Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo )

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