Advent 2017

First Wednesday of Advent - December 6th

Is 25: 6-10 / Ps 23: 1-6 / Mt. 15: 29-37

Advent: a time of feasting or fasting? It would hardly seem like a time of fasting given our scripture readings today. Isaiah prophesies that the coming of the Messiah will be like a mouthwatering feast of juicy rich food and top notch wine. Then the Gospel tells us of a time when Jesus fed a multitude of people and satisfied their hungers with only a few loaves of bread and some fish and with plenty left over.  However, the earliest celebrations of Advent, from the beginning of the 4th century, involved some form of fasting. Advent was seen as a time to spiritually prepare not only for the “feast” of Christmas but all the liturgical “feasts” of the coming year. Advent joyfully anticipated the heavenly banquet of eternal peace and justice that Jesus had promised. For many, Advent has become anything but a time of spiritual preparation and more about “lite-appetizers” before the banquet of traditional foods and material gift giving at Christmas. The primary role of fasting is to awaken our deepest longings and our awareness of our total dependence upon God. Wouldn’t fasting truly be countercultural in our world today in the days before the 25th of December? Fasting could be our pledge to fight hunger, consciously raising our waste of natural resources, and acting mindfully so that those less fortunate than us could share in the banquet of God’s fruits of creation. Respectfully “trimming” our use of food and other natural resources to allow others to share in God’s bounty would truly be a communal act self-giving. As Isaiah once said “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go share your bread with the hungry…?”  (Is 58: 6-7)

Rev. Francis J. Doyle, OSA
Board of Trustees