1st Sunday of Advent

Lectionary 1st Reading Psalm 2nd Reading Gospel
Anglican lectionary:
Isaiah 2:1–5
122
Romans 13:11–14
Matthew 24:36–44
Catholic lectionary:
-
-
(both)
(both)
SUMMARY OF PREACHING THEME

CREATION: PEDAGOGUE OF THE KINGDOM IN TIME OF ADVENT

The lessons of this Sunday provide us with valuable elements to be able to understand Creation as a sacrament, as that reality that brings us closer to God. The Word of God calls us to understand his creative work as an essential part of our relationship with the Transcendent, but also as a key element to restore the harmonious and fair relationships with others and with the environment.

In the text of Isaiah 2:1-5, the mountain is presented to us as the protagonist. In the Bible, the “mountain” is the element of nature that is constantly used to express the approach to God; it is a privileged space to enter an intimate relationship with him (Moses receiving the Law, Jesus preaching the Beatitudes, the Transfiguration, the crucifixion…).

In the text of Isaiah, the mountain is the place of worship: “where the temple of the Lord is”; but not of a merely mystical-spiritual cult, but of also a social cult. Going up the mountain, to meet the Lord, brings consequently learn from him and configure ourselves with his will, but not only that; also implies transform human relationships, since this meeting brings peace between brothers, between nations. With Lord we will beat our swords into ploughshares and our spears into pruning shears, “No people shall again take up arms against another or receive instruction for war”.

In Psalm 122 the purpose of the mount is to gather the community to worship, but also to do justice, and that combination (sentence-justice) is what makes reality longed for peace: “Let there be peace within your walls.” But beware, peace does not come by itself. You have to climb, you have to walk, and you have to make an effort. It is not about static, mystical tasks, but about actions, of movement, of starting to walk to meet: “Let us go to the house of the Lord”. However, although the mountain, that is to say the Creation, remains faithful in its sacramental role as we draw closer to God, this is not the case with the children of Adam and Eve. The creational call of God to all, is to be image and likeness of the Creator, and it is evident that we have not been faithful to that calling.

Sermon Notes

Jesus, in Matthew 24: 36-44, recalls the Flood to explain his return. The Deluge is nothing else than the return to the chaos prior to creation. God, in his infinite love, bursts into chaos, into domain of the waters and orders everything, creates everything. And precisely, the being that he appointed as butler of his creation, the only one in his image and likeness, was the one who brought back the waters on the earth, ending everything, destroying everything. “Human wickedness” returned God’s work to his primary situation. He was not image and likeness. Human deeds led to the suffering of creation and its extermination. Also, today humanity has brought Creation to a new “flood”. We are causing an unprecedented chaos, pushing the work of God to death, to the pre-creation situation, for through pollution, deforestation, the extinction of millions of species, but also oppressing the poor, displacing, being unjust. Jesus is coming and we’re not ready to introduce ourselves as faithful stewards.

What do we do now?

The answer is in the Gospel and in Romans 13:11–14: wake up, be ready, and get up! Paul calls us to read the signs of the times, to understand the context in which we live and, above all, to wake up from the anaesthetic sleep in which we are, out of the dark. It is time to restore fair relations with creation and others: “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not seek to gratify the evil desires of human nature.” It is time to think as the image and likeness of God.

The readings for this day call us to set out and to act. We have attracted the deluge, the night. It’s time to get up, climb the mountain, walk, and make the light shine, so that when Jesus comes again, he will not find us asleep, destroying the work of God or being unfair to others.

Notes on the Readings

Old Testament / Psalm reading

  • Keep in mind that the mountain is emphasized (4 times), which evokes the place of the presence of the Lord, from where he communicates (as to Moses, as in the Transfiguration). Here, in Isaiah, is the place of worship, of the encounter with the Lord to praise him. Let us see how nature serves as a meeting place with God throughout the Scriptures. (v.2).
  • Isaiah invites to climb because it will be on that mountain (where the temple is) the place where God will teach his ways. (v.3). the mountain becomes a spiritual school, in sanctuary to learn about God. But you must walk, climb, it’s not about a relationship static but dynamic.
  • After that encounter with the Lord, on the mountain, be come true the necessary transformation of humanity, where we will change our scale of values: Swords for ploughshares, spears by pruning shears (v.4). The God-humanity-mountain/creation encounter will bring the expected peace where the earth also benefits (v.4).
  • This last idea is reinforced by Psalm 122. It is there, on the mountain of Jerusalem, where the community not only praises God (v.4) but where justice operates (v.5). Then, the trinomial God, humanity, creation is not only about mystical relations but also about social ones; only with spirituality and justice intrinsically united, true peace will finally be experienced, in which is insisted three times (vv. 6-8).

 New Testament reading

  • The Letter to the Romans, in verse 11, leaves the most pertinent exhortation for the present reflection: “bear in mind the time in which we live, and know that it is high time waking up from sleep.”
  • It is time to open our eyes and stop dreaming that everything is fine, that the crisis of the environment is a myth, that it is a distant problem, of another generation. “The night it is very advanced” (V.12), we already slept too much; “let’s stop doing things of darkness and clothe ourselves with light” (V. 12).
  • It is necessary to “take into account the time in which we live”. Jesus also pointed it out when he spoke of the signs of the times. We are not reading them. The earth groans, with birth pains (as Paul writes in Romans) and we are not listening to her; it simply bleeds out, overheats, is mutilated in its forests and species, and we are not able to see that the consequences are returned to us because we depend on everything the rest.
  • We must “wake up from sleep”, start walking and act.
  • As in Isaiah, again, the answer is to move; not in remain static, asleep. You must get on the road, on the move.

The Gospel

  • In the gospel, Jesus remembers Noah and the Flood (vv.23-39) and compares his return with said episode.
  • We must remember what the Flood is. It is about the return of creation to the situation pre-creation (Gen 1:1), because before creation everything was chaos, everything was water. God, for his creative action puts water in his place and fills the cosmos with harmony. But the human wickedness (Gen 6:5) turns everything back into chaos and water (Gen 7). Evil of the human is counter-creational.
  • It is we, the “image and likeness” of God (Gen 1:26), who by our evil act against that being image, likeness, harmony, creation; and more well, we become chaos, destruction, extinction, murder, injustice, inequality.
  • We are in full flood. We are destroying the creative work of God. For that is why, in this season of Advent, we cry out “Come Lord Jesus”, come and make Your kingdom.
  • We must be prepared, because we do not know the day or the hour (v.36, 42-44), and we want the coming of the Lord to surprise us being unfaithful to our stewardship with creation, we don’t want to be caught in the chaos and deluge of the 21st century.
  • It is time to change our attitudes and align them with Christ, with that being image and resemblance so that life, creation, once again triumph over chaos.

ADDIOTIONAL RESOURCES

  1. Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7qSFtCBatQ&t=2s
  2. Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZHqDQ2dA2U&t=6s
  3. Article: http://www.amerindiaenlared.org/contenido/6826/ecoteologia-la-opcion-por-la-tierra-como-lugar-teologico/
  4. Article: https://amerindiaenlared.org/uploads/adjuntos/1380198064_attach53.pdf
  5. Article: https://casamdp.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/boff-cap-i.pdf
  6. Website: https://acostarichard.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/ecoteologia-la-opcion-por-la-tierra-como-lugar-teologico/
  7. Book: Acosta, Richard. Dios, Hombre, Creación. Hacia una Ecoteología bíblica. Bogotá. San Pablo. 2014.
  8. Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWRHxh6XepM&t=4924

Revd Richard Acosta Rodríguez

Richard Acosta Rodríguez is a priest at the San Benito Mission in the Diocese of Colombia; he is a university professor and has written several books and articles in the field of Biblical Ecotheology. He is a professor at the Center for Theological Studies of his diocese, is a member of the Oikos-Episcopal environmental reflection team and is editor of “Sermones Que Iluminan” in Spanish.

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