1st Sunday of Advent

Lectionary 1st Reading Psalm 2nd Reading Gospel
Anglican lectionary
Isaiah 64:1-9
80:1-7, 17-19
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Mark 13:24-37
Catholic lectionary:
Isaiah 63:16b-17


Isaiah 64:1-9
Isaiah wrote this important text as a long meditation about a moment simultaneously happy and tense: happy because under the government of King Cyrus the people were authorized to return to their homeland, but tense due to the encounter between those who were taken and those who stayed. The differences became pronounced, given that those who returned came with an open perspective about their faith, and those who stayed considered that those who returned were corrupted. This tension is not ignored by the Prophet who writes about the reality of the situation without trying to escape contradictions. It is precisely about this clash that Isaiah calls for an advent that brings change and reconciliation. A new world can be born at any moment, by “Goodwill” but God keeps the final word and world for himself. We can be shaped by God if we allow ourselves to be shaped, and we will be reconciled with one another if we are first reconciled with God. All this can only be done not in a world of fantasy, but like Isaiah, facing the tragic world around us, because if we look around, we will see what kind of world is going to end. 

Mark 13:24-37
The text of chapter 13 of Mark reports the consequences of Jesus visit to Jerusalem and his opinion about religion practiced there. The disciples, amazed by the Temple and attracted by its grandeur and apparent eternity, stimulated Jesus at the Mount of Olives – fundamental for his Passion – to elaborate a prophecy, not only about the end of the Temple, but also with it the end of the world and the universe as we know it. The prophecy attracted the attention of the disciples, and the only way they could understand this was to ask the question that guides Jesus’ entire speech:

“Tell us, when these things will happen?” v.4

The universe in its eternal organization, the cosmic forces emerged from chaos by the voice of God, it seems they will return to the chaos from which they came, or, it will undergo a reorganization. The world, humanity, human relationships, as we know them, will undergo a radical change. The persecutions that the Christian community was experiencing seems just to be tribulation and suffering. If even the Universe passes, then it is impossible for human suffering not to pass. Advent is the hope of the end of all pains.



“What I say to you, I say to everyone: Watch” v37

Once again, we have the privilege of experience Advent, and all that it symbolizes for us personally, for the Christian Community and for the World; the Christian World and the not so Christian world. By the reading of the prophecy of Isaiah we should have the conscience that when the prophet wrote he had no idea that the One to come was going to be called “Jesus”, but knew that He had a title: The Messiah, and His mission is to fulfill a total new world.  A world that in ancient times was “good”, as God said, but now ruined by sins like falsehood, envy and war. 

To Isaiah’s hopes, the advent of a so expected new world could just be done by the hand of God, punishing Israel’s enemies. The prophet recognizes that they were surrounded by other nations with the danger of their false, but sometimes attractive, gods. However, Isaiah never let the people forget how many of their own could be enemies for themselves. To deal with all this radical reality, it was urgent a radical change. And that change could never come just from people with “goodwill”, it should come with the action of God, even if He felt necessary to come to us, in flesh and blood. 

Humankind abandoned to itself, have no good consequences. To deal with this radical transformation of the world, a radical transformation of word “Love” was urgent, because “Love” needed new and deep senses. And so, God in His eternal wisdom radically came to us as the so long expected Messiah, fulfilling His Divinity with a surprising Flesh in Jesus of Nazareth, that in the text of Mark He is preparing Himself to fulfil His Ministry, becoming The Christ

In Advent we prepare our hearts and our thoughts for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, the Dream of God to the world. Advent reminds us that until the coming of the Kingdom there will always be a possibility to change the world, to announce that this world, as we know it, will end. No stones of the old human sins will prevail. We should observe everything around us, because this new world could already began somewhere, maybe inside us: “Watch”! 

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José Manuel Cerqueira

I was born in Porto – Portugal, in 1965, studied Ancient Music, and Theology at the Lisbon Ecumenical Seminar and later at The Portuguese Catholic University. I was ordained in 1993 at the Portuguese Methodist Church, being a Minister till 2013. In 2015 I was appointed organist in my local parish at the Lusitanian Church/Anglican Communion and became a Lay Reader in 2022. I work as part time for the Church Newspaper and for the Anglican Center of Theological Studies. From 2001 till present day I teach full time in various Senior Universities.

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