Homily for the 1st Sunday of Advent Year A
Theme: “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘You must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.’” (Matthew 24:44)
By: Fr. Robert deLeon, CSC
Homily for Sunday December 1 2019
As we begin a new liturgical year on this First Sunday of Advent, we are admonished to open anew our hearts, minds, eyes and ears to perceive God’s summons to rebirth. “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘You must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.’” (Matthew 24:44)
While, at first reading, it may seem like Jesus is warning us of imminent death, it’s not so. As a matter of fact, he is calling us to something far more challenging! Jesus is calling us to imminent life, to live in this body on this earth as someone newly born.
Let one man’s testimony to his own earthly rebirth tell the story. Former President Jimmy Carter, in an article entitled “Losing my religion for equality,” relates the experience. I share an excerpt with you:
“I have been a practicing Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be ‘subservient’ to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.
“This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.
“It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices.
“The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place—and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence—than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.
“The truth is that male religious leaders have had—and still have—an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.”
Presently 95 years old, Jimmy and wife Rosalyn continue to build a better world through hands-on involvement with The Carter Center, a non-governmental, not-for-profit organization they founded whose goal is to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.
“Jesus said to his disciples, ‘You must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.’” (Matthew 24:44) Indeed, Jesus is even now at our door, knocking to be invited in. He begs us to join with many others in seeking relief from this world’s terrible anguish.
Echoing that anguish is Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, well-known Catholic spiritual guide, who wrote that “Christianity is a lifestyle—a way of being in the world that is simple, non-violent, shared, and loving. However, we have made it into an established ‘religion’ (and all that goes with that) and avoided the lifestyle change itself. One could be warlike, greedy, racist, selfish, and vain in most of Christian history, and still believe that Jesus is one’s ‘personal Lord and Savior’… The world has no time for such silliness anymore. The suffering on earth is too great.”