Creighton University's Online Ministries

The Two Parts of Advent

Part 1: up until December 16

While most liturgical seasons have the gospel as their main focus, during the first weeks of Advent, the Church gives us daily readings from the prophet Isaiah.  With the eyes of faith, these foretell the coming of the Messiah. Rather than a continuous gospel narrative familiar to us for most of the year, this part of Advent offers a wide variety of gospel readings that support the first reading of the day. 

After almost two weeks of Isaiah readings, we hear the foretelling of a Messiah from other prophets from the Hebrew scriptures - in Sirach, Numbers, Zephaniah and returning to Isaiah. With each passing week, the prophets speak more clearly of the coming of a Savior. 

So, in reading the first reading, for the first part of Advent, we listen to the anticipation, expectation, hope and promise.  In listening to the second reading, we listen for the fulfillment or connection with the gospel.

Part 2: December 17 - 24

In these last eight days before Christmas, the relationship between the readings changes.  Now the gospel brings us to our celebration of Christmas.  The gospels are taken from the infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke. 

Each of these days, the first reading is taken from the Hebrew scriptures, and chosen to match the gospel.  In many cases we can imagine Matthew or Luke having the first reading open on their desks while they wrote the gospel.

So, we can read the gospel first and then read the first reading.  The sense of anticipation and fulfillment builds as we read the story of the preparation for Jesus' first coming into this world for us.

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