Theme: HEEDING TO WARNING SIGNALS
By: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
Homily for Sunday November 28 2021
R1 – Jer 33:14-16
R2 – 1Thess 3:12-4:2
GOSPEL – Luke 21:25-28,34-36
In its day, the RMS Titanic was the world’s largest ocean-liner, weighing 46,328 tons, and it was considered unsinkable. Yet, late during the night of April 14-15, 1912, the unthinkable happened to the unsinkable. Near midnight, the great Titanic struck an iceberg and sank. It sank in two and a half hours killing 1,513 people. Before the Titanic sank, warning after warning had been sent to tell the crew that they were speeding into an ice field, but the messages were ignored. In fact, when a nearby ship sent an urgent warning, the Titanic was talking to Cape Race about the time the chauffeurs were to meet arriving passengers at the dock in New York, and what dinner menus were to be ready. Preoccupied with the trivia, the Titanic responded to the warning, “Shut up. I am talking to Cape Race. You are jamming my signals!” Why did so many die that night? Perhaps the crew disregarded the danger of the weather; there were not enough lifeboats on board; perhaps those responsible did not heed the warnings; they were preoccupied with other things!
Beloved in Christ, today is the first Sunday of Advent Year C and the beginning of a new Liturgical Year. The word Advent comes from the Latin ‘advenio‘, which literally means “come to.” During Advent season, the church invites us to reflect on the threefold comings of Jesus:
(i) His coming in History
(ii) His coming in Mystery
(iii) His coming in Majesty
Besides Jesus’ first coming at birth, we are asked to reflect on Christ’s coming as the risen Lord at Easter, in the word and Sacraments (especially the Eucharist), in our everyday lives, at the moment of death, and at the end of human history (the second coming).
So, Advent is a time of waiting and hoping, of renewing our trust in God’s merciful love and care, and of reflecting on the several comings (advents), of Christ into our lives.
Just as we ended the previous liturgical season with an apocalyptic description of the end of the world, we begin the new season of Advent with similar apocalyptic warnings.
In the first reading, Jeremiah shows us a prophetic vision of Christ’s first coming (Advent). Jeremiah waits and hopes for an ideal descendant of King David Who, as Messiah of God, will bring security, peace, and justice to God’s people.
The second reading invites us to always participate in Christ’s daily coming into our lives here and now in our brothers and sisters by continuing and intensifying the life of holiness and mutual love he has taught us as we wait for “the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His holy ones.”
While the Gospel reading opens vistas of prophetic vision of Christ’s glorious, final Second Coming (Parousia); Jesus prophesies the signs and portents that will accompany his Second Coming and encourages us to be expectant, optimistic, vigilant, and well-prepared: “When these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand” (Luke 21:28).
*WARNING SIGNALS OF THE SECOND COMING*
Warning signals are precautionary and safety measures meant to avert an impending dangers or disasters. Medical practitioners are advised to put on the safety gloves, drivers and passengers are encouraged to always fasten their seat belts, the warning signals at the gate, “Beware of dogs” or traffic signs: “stop, slow, bumbs ahead, men at work,” are set out for the benefits and safety of the warned. When it is neglected and not harkened to, could lead to the sinking of our ships as we see in the introit story of RMS Titanic. Nevertheless, Second Coming Warning Signals call for alertness, preparedness and watchfulness over the threefold comings of Christ; so not as to be taken unawares.
However, we sometimes believe that our ‘ship’ is unsinkable, our life is completely planned, and the unthinkable can never happen to us. We need to read the signs of the times; we need to pay attention to the warning signals. But if we are preoccupied with the trivial things of life we will miss the most important things till it is too late.
The same type of signal warnings is what played out in today’s scriptural texts, urging us to be watchful, waiting, and prepared always for Christ’s continuous coming in our lives. The Gospel of Luke admonishes us to wait and prepare for the Lord in our present situation of indefinitely wait for Christ’s second coming. Then have our attention and energies shifted from future fulfillment to present service and commitment. That’s why, after reminding his community about the signs which would precede Jesus’ Second Coming, Luke gives them Jesus’ warning: “Be on guard lest your spirits become bloated with indulgence and drunkenness and worldly cares. Pray constantly for the strength to escape whatever is in prospect and to stand secure before the Son of Man.”
In order to do this, we must read the signs of the times and adjust our lives accordingly. Jesus also gives us the assurance that no matter what terrors the future holds, Jesus will be present, caring for us as much as we heed to warning signals, without diverting from the path of morality.
(1) *ALWAYS BE WATCHFUL AND PREPARED*
The most deserving response to the warning signals of Christ’s second coming, either in History, Mystery or Majesty is watchfulness and preparedness. By so doing, we allow Jesus to be reborn daily in our lives. Advent gives us time to facilitate such preparations and watchfulness by repenting of and confessing our sins, renewing our lives through prayer and penance, and sharing our blessings with others. Alexander Pope challenges us: “What does it profit me if Jesus is reborn in thousands of cribs all over the world and not reborn in my heart?”
(2) *STAND UP, RAISE YOUR HEADS IN HOPE*
By admonishing us to always stand up and raise our heads in hope, Jesus disposes us of ever impending tragedies that sometimes occur in our daily lives. Our marriage, relationships or vocations may stagger; we may lose our job, discover that we some terminal illness or become estranged from our children or people. In all such situations, when we feel overwhelmed by disaster and feel that our lives have no meaning, Jesus assures us of his ever abiding presence: “Stand up, raise your heads, because your salvation is near.”
Finally, there is this story about a bus driver with an unusual record of driving for 23 years, covering over 900,000 miles without a single accident. When asked how he had done it, he gave this simple answer: “Watch the road.”
Beloved, Jesus gives the same advice in several ways: “Be vigilant at all times,” “Stand erect,” “Raise your heads,” “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy.” This is not only a good spiritual advice for the Advent season but also a safe rule for daily life. A good football player or basketball player should always concentrate his attention on the ball and the players. A good student must be alert, awake and attentive, watching the teacher and listening to his or her words. A good Catholic in the Church must be physically and mentally alert, watching the altar and actively participating in the prayers and songs.
MAY GOD GRANT US THE SPIRITUAL DISPOSITION AND LONGING TO ALWAYS HEED TO WARNING SIGNALS IN OUR CHRISTIAN LIFE.
*GOD BLESS YOU* !
_FR GERALD MUOKA_