Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The First Tuesday of Advent: The Judgment of God

Ps 72:17 May his name endure forever; may it continue as long as the sun. All nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed.

Readings for the First Week of Advent
Throughout Advent, the Church prescribes readings from the greatest of the prophets, the Prophet Isaiah, whose writings foreshadow the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

On the first Sunday of Advent, we read the beginning of the book of Isaiah, where the prophet speaks in the voice of God and calls the people of Israel to repentance, to prepare them for the coming of His Son. But the Old Testament people of Israel also represents the New Testament Church, so the call to repentance applies to us as well. Christ has already come, at the first Christmas; but He is coming again at the end of time, and we need to prepare our souls.

We need to "cease doing evil, and learn to do good," and Isaiah mentions specific acts of charity that we might take to heart this Advent season: help those who are oppressed, by poverty or injustice; relieve the orphaned; care for widows. Our works flow from our faith, and are a sign of that faith. But, as the Apostle James declared, "Faith without works is dead."

Scripture Reading for the First Tuesday of Advent
The Judgment of God

Today's reading from the Prophet Isaiah continues the theme of the judgment of Israel. Because of the sins of the people, God will humble Israel, and only the "bud of the Lord"—Christ—will shine in glory.
When Christ comes, Israel will be purified. Since Christ comes both at His Birth and at the Second Coming, and since the Old Testament Israel is a type of the New Testament Church, the prophecy of Isaiah applies to the Second Coming as well. During Advent, we not only prepare ourselves for Christ's Birth; we prepare our souls for the Final Judgment.

Isaiah 2:6-22; 4:2-6 (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition)

For thou hast cast off thy people, the house of Jacob: because they are filled as in times past, and have had soothsayers as the Philistines, and have adhered to strange children. Their land is filled with silver and gold: and there is no end of their treasures. And their land is filled with horses: and their chariots are innumerable. Their land also is full of idols: they have adored the work of their own hands, which their own fingers have made.

And man hath bowed himself down, and man hath been debased: therefore forgive them not. Enter thou into the rock, and hide thee in the pit from the face of the fear of the Lord, and from the glory of his majesty.

The lofty eyes of man are humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be made to stoop: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. Because the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and highminded, and upon every one that is arrogant, and he shall be humbled. And upon all the tall and lofty cedars of Libanus, and upon all the oaks of Basan. And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the elevated hills. And upon every high tower, and every fenced wall. And upon all the ships of Tharsis, and upon all that is fair to behold.

And the loftiness of men shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be humbled, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. And idols shall be utterly destroyed. And they shall go into the holes of rocks, and into the caves of the earth from the face of the fear of the Lord, and from the glory of his majesty, when he shall rise up to strike the earth. In that day a man shall cast away his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which he had made for himself to adore, moles and bats.

And he shall go into the clefts of rocks, and into the holes of stones from the face of the fear of the Lord, and from the glory of his majesty, when he shall rise up to strike the earth.

Cease ye therefore from the man, whose breath is in his nostrils, for he is reputed high.

In that day the bud of the Lord shall be in magnificence and glory, and the fruit of the earth shall be high, and a great joy to them that shall have escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that every one that shall be left in Sion, and that shall remain in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, every one that is written in life in Jerusalem.

If the Lord shall wash away the filth of the daughters of Sion, and shall wash away the blood of Jerusalem out of the midst thereof, by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. And the Lord will create upon every place of mount Sion, and where he is called upon, a cloud by day, and a smoke and the brightness of a flaming fire in the night: for over all the glory shall be a protection. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shade in the daytime from the heat, and for a security and covert from the whirlwind, and from rain.

Tuesday Advent Prayers

“Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall declare your praise.”

Look with favor, Lord God, on our petitions,
and in our trials grant us your compassionate help,
that, consoled by the presence of your Son, whose coming we now await,
we may be tainted no longer by the corruption of former ways.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. *

Today's Prayers:

Daily Meditation:
A shoot shall sprout from the stump.
Our God can transform our weakness, our sin, all conflict and all division.
From every life-less stump - where any future hope has been cut off
- a shoot of new life can sprout.
He shall judge the poor with justice,
and decide aright for the land's afflicted.

We need to really hear this “good news” so that our hearts can begin to be softened
to hear how profoundly our God desires to help us
and to make things right with all of creation.
Throughout the day today, we can lighten our spirits
as we turn to God and pray:
Let me rejoice at the coming of your Son, for me!

Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace forever. Ps. 72

Today's Daily Reflection
To the eternal Word who became man
to reveal to us the new and living way.
Let us make our humble prayer:
Come, Lord, and save us!

God in whom we live and move and have our being,
- come teach us that you have made us your own.

You are not far from each of us,
- show yourself to all who search for you.

Father of the poor and consoler of the afflicted,
- set captives free, give joy to those who mourn.

You hate death and love life,
- free all mankind from eternal death.

Closing Prayer:
God of forgiveness,
I turn to you in my great weakness
and beg for your help.
Let me feel the joy growing in my heart
as I anticipate your coming.

I hear the message of the prophets of old
and know that the Messiah will bring
new life and new ways of living.

From the humbleness of my life,
help me to grow and bloom
and hear the words
that will change the world.
May the Lord bless us, 
protect us from all evil 
and bring us to everlasting life. 

Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition of the Bible (in the public domain)

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