The webpage of the Youth Ministry of the Irish Province of Augustinians

1st Sunday of Advent, Year B, 27th November 2011

Today's gospel tells us very clearly to be awake, to be on the watch.  As we begin Advent this year we are, possibly, more aware of the need to be awake than usual.  The introduction of the new Roman Missal this Sunday is something that will surely keep us all on our toes as we try to get used to the new responses in the liturgy as well as the new format of prayers that have been familiar to us for many years such as the Gloria and the Creed.

Cardinal Newman tells us that to be alive is to change but to be perfect is to have changed often.  Newman may well be right but, nonetheless, change is always uncomfortable and makes demands on us that sometimes we find challenging.  Change for the sake of change is never lifegiving.  The most positive type of change is always the sort that prepares us for the future; makes us stronger; educates and informs us.

The changes in the liturgy, while uncomfortable, are certainly of the second type because they are an attempt to educate us and to prepare us to worship in a more fulsome way.  That the "new" texts are a closer translation of the official Latin texts is, I suspect, a matter of great indifference to most people.  However, that they are more descriptive and more biblical can only be a good thing.

The response to the priest saying "This is the Lamb of God..." now reads "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof but only say the word and my sould shall be healed".  This quotes the gospel text which tells of the Centurion who went to Jesus because his servant was sick.  Jesus offered to go to his house but the Centurion replied with the words quoted above.  This episode in the gospel is one which Jesus uses to highlight the fact that there are those outside the Jewish people who accept his message and believe in him.  By using this sentence we not only recall that gospel event but also identify ourselves with a profession of faith that links us directly with the time of the historical Jesus.

Advent is about preparing.  Preparing is, in one way or another, about change.  We change our houses by tidying them and using decorations; we prepare ourselves by penance and works of charity; we prepare as a community by practising for the liturgy and for the Christmas celebrations.  Each of these things is a change from our routine.  This is not change for change's sake but rather change in preparation for something which is important to us.

As we reflect through Advent this year let us also use the new Missal.  Let the challenge of getting used to it be a reminder to us that we should never take our faith for granted.  Let us renew our sense of the great privilige it is to be a follower of Jesus so that we can say with the Centurion that we believe and that even though we are not worthy we believe that Jesus came in to our world, Jesus has come under our roof, Jesus has come into our hearts.


Article posted on 25th of November 2011

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