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First Sunday of Advent November 29, 2009

(Jer. 33:14-16; 1 Thes 3:12-4:2; Luke 21:25-28, 34-36)

Jeremiah often looked to the future. Whatever tragedy he speaks of (either

what’s already happened or what’s about to happen) was considered less important
than what God would do to reverse things. As with all the biblical prophets, it was
rather the Lord who spoke through Jeremiah, rather than Jeremiah speaking on his
own. Thus we often hear the refrain: “thus says the Lord” in the prophets. Here in
Sunday’s reading it is the Lord who speaks of future fulfillment of the ancient
promise with Israel.
Part of that ancient promise involved God seeing to it that a descendant of the
ancient King David (dead already for 400 years by the time of Jeremiah) would
come along. Such a vision the prophet had! This descendant will actually do what is
right and just in the land! This was something worth looking for.
Jeremiah condemned much of the military and economic decision-making by
the kings of his day. Because of this he struggled greatly. He loved his people and
he loved the land of his ancestors but he hated the king’s foreign policy and that of
his cohorts. In the name of the Lord he let them know they were wrong, and for this
advice he wound up in jail, branded as a traitor. But Jeremiah refused to be silent
and he argued that true security would only come if the people stayed faithful to the
Lord. Foreign alliances would do them no good and would offer neither security nor
Christians believe that Jesus is that “just shoot” for David whom Jeremiah
only hoped for and it is Christ who does what is right and just in the land. Indeed it
is Christ who is the Lord’s justice. It is in this way that Christians see biblical
prophecy fulfilled....in Christ. Many wrongly think that biblical prophecy
fulfillment means seeing bizarre things happen in advance as though somehow God
telegraphed punches. For Christians the fulfillment of biblical prophecy is done in
Christ, who fulfills both the Law and the Prophets.
Luke’s gospel is like the gospel from two weeks ago. One of the more curious
items Luke adds is the idea that nations “will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring
of the sea and the waves.” This may well be written under the influence of Ps. 46:4
where the earth’s “waters rage and foam and the mountains quake at its surging.
The Lord of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob.” Ps. 89:10 is also a
possible influence here: “You rule over the surging of the sea; you still the swelling
of its waves.”
But the Son of man coming in (or on) a cloud with great power and glory is
Christ who is the redeemer. The Christian disciple is told to raise the head high and
stand tall because these signs are but pointers to redemption. So stay alert and don’t
cave in to the pressures of life.
The second reading requires great care in its oral proclamation. It is
inexcusably poor editing. Unfortunately the revised lectionary is full of poor
editing. The opening sentence should have a period in the middle somewhere. It
should read: “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another
and for all just as we abound in love for you. And may the Lord strengthen your
hearts so you will be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming
of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.”

Fr. Lawrence L. Hummer

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