Homily for the 1st Sunday of Advent Year A
Theme: “THEREFORE, YOU MUST BE PREPARED”
By: Fr. Precious Ezeh
Homily for Sunday December 1 2019
1st Sunday of Advent: A
Today marks the beginning of a new cycle in the Church’s Liturgical life, which has a three year span, A-C. Having concluded year C, the cycle restarts from A. Every Liturgical Year begins with the Season of Advent, which is the period marking the expectation of the Messiah. The word “Advent” or “Adventus” in Latin, is translated “coming” in English. It has the Greek equivalent “parousia”. While many will identify the “Advent” with the coming of the infant Jesus, and the “Parousia” as the returning of the Master Jesus, both implications are drawn from the Advent celebration, and even more, namely, the daily coming of Jesus into our lives.
However, in the readings of today, the idea of coming expressed is two-directional; one involves rather an invitation to come and join an upward movement, while the other is the revelation of a certain imminent downward coming. The first reading and the Psalm invites all to come and join the upward movement to the mountain of the Lord, the 2nd reading establishes the mode of this movement, while the Gospel speaks of the expected downward coming of the Son of Man on the last day.
In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah strikes an important cord in God’s scheme of salvation. Rather than just the citizens of Israel, all nations of the world are involved in the movement toward the mountain of the Lord. The mountain signifies a place of worship for Israel. Both in the Old and the New Testament, special encounters with God occurred on the Mountain. Moses encountered God on Mount Sinai, Elijah at Mount Horeb, and even the transfiguration of Jesus happened on a high mountain.
Isaiah sees the mountain of the Lord established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. Thus, the God of Jacob becomes God of all nations. He shall issue instructions that the whole world will follow and establish peace in place of wars.
In the Second reading Paul instructs the Romans to throw off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light, to get rid of all their evil ways and to conduct themselves properly. A glance at the 2nd reading, one observes a synergy established with the first reading and the Psalm. Psalm 24 asks the question, “who shall climb the mountain of the Lord and stand in his Holy Place?” the answer given by the Psalmist is akin to Paul’s words to the Romans in Rom 13:11-14, — a man with clean hands and pure heart, who has not set his heart on worthless things. Those are the objectives of Paul’s instructions to the Romans.
In the gospel reading, Jesus gives an urgent warning regarding his second coming. He urges all to be prepared and stay awake, lest his coming takes all unawares like the coming of the flood in the days of Noah.
Generally, there is an urgent air of preparation during the Advent season, as many people work harder to be set for the Christmas celebration. However, this preparation most times go contrary to the expectations of Jesus and Paul’s instructions. Instead of spiritual preparation, every emphasis is placed on the material.
There is an increase in the wave of corruption, cheating, stealing, kidnappings, killings, etc, all in the mad craving to make material advancements. All these wickedness were what the world was left with in the time of Noah. Hence only a few were saved from the flood.
The warning of Jesus today is meant to save someone. The one to be saved is the one who agrees to be prepared. To be saved one must be ready by his good works. Hence the period of Advent should be a period of good works and not of evil. It should be a period of peace not of quarrels
According to Isaiah, those who shall ascend God’s mountain must take instructions from Zion. Their instruments of war must be converted from destructive purposes to usefulness.
Let these be our guiding principles in this season of Advent. May God find us ready and waiting at all times, in his daily encounter with us in his Word and Sacrament and at his second coming, amen.
Fr. Precious Ezeh