The shops are filling up with Christmas stock. Christmas decorations and lights are appearing everywhere. There is a positivity about Christmas that is very welcome. We are not talking about Brexit and all the other issues that dominate our news feeds, and newspapers, for the last while.

So it’s the First Sunday in Advent and surely there will be gentle readings today in our mass, on the theme of Love and maybe angels. But no. Our Scripture readings today are about the “end of days”. In Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans we are encouraged to “live decently”. The reading from Isaiah advises us “let us walk in the light of the Lord”. Finally in the Gospel we are told that our final encounter with the Lord will come suddenly when we least expect it.

Pope Francis has wise words on the themes in our Gospel today. He asks us not to be controlled by the things of this world, by material reality, but rather to govern them. If…we allow ourselves to be influenced and overpowered by these things, we cannot perceive that there is something very important: our final encounter with the Lord: this is important. We Christians try to live our lives today based on a promise of a new tomorrow with God if we “live decently”.

The Pope in his words, and the Scripture readings today, are trying to re-focus us on this truly essential message.