1ST SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR B – HOMILY
THEME: PREPARING FOR CHRISTMAS
By: Msgr Gerald Musa
Isaiah 63, 16-17. 19; 64, 2-7; Psalm 80; 1 Corinthians 1, 3-9; Mark 13: 33-37
The famous author, Charles Dickens wrote a book titled “A Christmas Carol.” In this book, he narrates the story of a man called Ebenezer who is an elderly, miserly man who dislikes everything about preparing for Christmas. He lives alone and his main interest is acquiring money and material things and is not concerned about the suffering and misery of others. On Christmas Eve, Ebenezer returns home and is visited by the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley, who is condemned to be wandering in restlessness after his death because of the wicked and selfish life he lived. Marley warns Ebenezer telling him to change from his selfish and greedy life, otherwise, he will suffer the same restless and wandering life after death.
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Again, that night, Ebenezer is visited by three ghosts.
The first was the Ghost of Christmas Past which takes him on memory lane, making him look at his past life, his childhood, career, and broken love. The second was the Ghost of Christmas Present which shows him the joyous celebration of Christmas taking place in the humble home of Bob, his underpaid and overworked worker. Ebenezer is moved to see how his poor worker is celebrating Christmas happily with his family even with the little income he had. The third ghost that visited him was the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (Future Christmas) which reveals a dark vision of Ebenezer’s death and the reaction of indifference and even joy by the people around. Seeing this vision and the negative future that awaits him, Ebenezer pleads with the spirit to give him another chance to change his selfish lifestyle. He promises to be more generous, kind, compassionate, loving, and caring. He begins by reconciling with his nephew Fred and goes on to raise the salary of his poor clerk, Bob and becomes a father figure to little Tim, Bob’s sick son.
In the end, Ebenezer embraces the true spirit of Christmas which is joy, love, and kindness. He becomes a beloved member of the community and his conversion shows that it is never too late to change.
The season of Advent consists of four weeks (Sundays) of spiritual preparation for Christmas. These four weeks give us another chance to take a second look at our lifestyle and change for the better.
This first Sunday of Advent emphasises the importance of vigilance, being ready, and staying alert. The Scripture readings selected for the season of Advent prepare our minds for the coming of Christ. For example, in one of the texts, the prophet Isaiah desperately cries in his prayers for the Lord to come into the world and make it better: “Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage. Oh, that you would tear the heavens and come down” (Isaiah 63:18-19). The prophet observed that the people had forsaken God and decided to follow their desires. They wanted to exercise their freedom, and in doing so they thought that God should be kept at arm’s length.
Just like the prophet, today’s parents, teachers, preachers, the elderly, and spiritually conscious people who carefully observe a morally sinking world persistently pray for a new social and moral order. It is common today to see many people who were once strong in the faith, including altar servers and choir members abandon their faith and embrace the material world and a busy lifestyle that gives no space for God.
Very often many people forget and desert God at the height of strength and success. Two things occur when people hit rock bottom after the glamour of success has vanished. Some would resort to all forms of pleasure that give temporary meaning to life and others who are wise would simply invite God back into their lives.
The season of Advent is a period of preparation to remember not only the birth but also a time to proclaim his second return. It is about his second coming that Christ advises us: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.”
The season of Advent challenges everyone to make some spiritual plans to receive Jesus at Christmas. Here are some suggestions to help us prepare spiritually for Christmas:
*Intensify or revive our prayer life; attend Mass not only on Sunday; read the scriptures daily.
*Reflect and see if there are people we need to forgive and wrongdoings we would like to confess.
*For Christmas gifts, we should think beyond our family by identifying people who are troubled, lonely and bereaved and share the peace of Christ with them; the gift of ourselves and time is the most precious that we can give.
*The more spiritually prepared we are, the better, and more joyful and meaningful Christmas would be to us.
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