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November 28, 2021: First Sunday of Advent

Gospel – Luke 21:25-28, 34-36

Jesus said to his disciples: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

“But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand. Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth.

“Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”


It is the first Sunday of Advent. By now, the Christmas lights are on in the evenings. Christmas music, cards, and well wishes are in the air. I smile as I remember my friend Sister Claire. When she and I would pray for the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary, Sister Claire would wish baby Jesus a “Happy Birthday” at the mystery of the nativity.

Entering church, one candle is lit in the Advent Wreath. The candle and the priest’s vestments are purple. Purple signifies waiting and conversion, which characterizes Advent. Purple also represents royalty and makes us mindful of why we prepare.

The Gospel reading immediately takes us to the horror and chaos of the end times. Then, the world will see the Son of Man coming with power and great glory.

This one moment is a glimpse of the entirety of salvation as God’s plan in God’s time. We are preparing for the birth of a child destined to sacrifice His life on that cross. We are aware that we await the second coming. We are called to repentance, to be strong in our faith, and to remain ever vigilant in our waiting.

As scary as the images of the end time may seem, there is no reason for fear. Jesus is right there beside us. Jesus says, “When these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”


This week, spend some time reflecting as you gaze upon a creche. Shake off worldly anxieties. Think about your spiritual relationship with Jesus. Choose one way to experience that relationship more deeply. Enjoy whispering a “Happy Birthday” to the child who is the Savior of the World.

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Helen Flavin

Helen Flavin

Helen Flavin is a Providence Associate. She is a Catholic scientist, educator and writer. Helen received her Ph.D. in Neurochemistry from Boston College. She is a fulltime science teacher. She is a guest columnist for her Diocese’s Catholic Newspaper “The Anchor.” She enjoys volunteering at the local nursing home.

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  1. Avatar Shelton Alice on November 25, 2021 at 1:04 pm

    Thank you for beginning Advent with a strong reminder about vigilant waiting, Helen. Blessed Advent season to you way out East!

  2. Avatar Paula Modaff, SP on November 26, 2021 at 2:58 pm

    Helen, so grateful for your reminder that “there is no reason to fear” in the midst of personal pressures and social upheavals because of Jesus’ presence with us. How much more full of peace and confidence our Advent can be by simply recalling this truth.

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