HOMILY FOR 1ST SUNDAY OF ADVENT – YEAR/B
THEME: Hope in the midst of Affliction
BY: FR. LUKE IJEZIE
Isaiah 63:16b-17,19b; 64:2-7;
Today the Church begins the season of Advent, which marks a journey of hope for the coming of the Jesus, the Redeemer. The readings of today present the picture of a suffering humanity in need of God’s intervention.
1. The first reading from selected verses of Isaiah 63 and 64 (63:16b-17,19b; 64:2-7) presents one of the deepest lamentations in the Bible. The author of the text expresses the mood of his suffering people. They are in deep straits of misery. He laments the fate of Jerusalem and its inhabitants who were subjected to terrible devastation by foreign powers and oppressors. In the midst of these calamities, it seemed as if God did not care. It seemed God had abandoned His people. The author reminds God of His role as father and redeemer. He weeps that God in His anger has forgotten His people. He, therefore, confesses the sins of his people so that God would return: “Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful; all of us have become like unclean people, all our good deeds are like polluted rags; we have all withered like leaves, and our guilt carries us away like the wind”
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(Isa 64:4-5). The prophet in his lamentation also blames God for even allowing His people to wander and depart from Him. Afterall, He has the power to force all to do His will. At the end, he falls on his knees, reminding God that sinning is part and parcel of the weak human nature. So God should pardon knowing that we are the work of His hands. We are the clay and He is the porter. Moreover, He is our father, and so should overlook our iniquities with His fatherly heart.
In our daily wrestling with life, we often feel like this prophet as we wonder why God allows us to wallow in misery and letting our oppressors to triumph. We can’t but identify with the prophet as he cries: “O that You would tear the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at Your presence” (Isa 64:1).
One can imagine how often suffering people have entertainment this ardent desire that God should rend the heavens and come down to bring instant deliverance.
2. The Psalmist of Psalm 80 continues the plaintive call to God to intervene and rescue His oppressed and sinful people who are on the brink of irreversible collapse.
3. The second reading from 1Cor 13-9, however, restores our hope as it presents Jesus as God’s answer to the wishes and pleas of suffering humanity. He is God’s affirmative intervention to rescue His people. The important thing is to keep following the faithful God who loves us and ever keeps His promise of redemption.
4. The Gospel text from Mark 13:33-37 raises our hope that God would intervene to rescue us. But the great warning is that He would come in a moment we do not expect. What is needed is to be ever ready and watchful.
5. The season of Advent invites us to wake up from our sleepy way of life and and be ever active in good works. God must not catch us sleeping and unprepared when He comes. Loving the neighbour we see and resisting all attractions of sin are the best ways to remain ever prepared.
As we begin the new season of waiting for God, may His Spirit awaken in us the desire to encounter Him in all the daily events of our lives!
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