HOMILY FOR THE 1ST SUNDAY OF ADVENT YEAR A.
THEME: THE CALL OF ADVENT.
BY: Rev. Fr. Leonard Maduabuchi Okoli
First reading: Isaiah 2:1-5
Second reading: Rom. 13:11-14
Gospel: Matthew 24:37-44
1. Today, the Catholic Church begins a new liturgical year. This is quite different from the secular year which begins in January. The liturgical year of the Church begins with the Advent season. Therefore, today is the first Sunday of Advent. What is the meaning of Advent? The word comes from the Latin root “Adventus” which means ‘arrival’. It also comes from its root word “advenire” meaning “to come” or “arrive”. For us Christians, advent is the period when we await the coming of Christ to the world in the form of man. It is a period when we joyfully expect the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas.
2. It is instructive to understand the meaning and purpose of the “waiting” we do duties Advent. Yes, Advent is a period of waiting for the coming of Christ at Christmas, but what type of waiting? What exactly does it mean to wait for someone? There are two types of waiting: active and passive. In waiting actively, you wait in preparation. For instance, a student waiting for his/her examinations will spend the time preparing. That is an active period of waiting because it involves serious preparation. The passive waiting is just waiting in idleness; doing nothing meaningful or substantial, but just wasting away one’s time. During Advent, we wait actively for the coming of Christ. We wait in preparation, preparing our hearts and minds to receive Christ at Christmas. We prepare like a couple expecting a baby.
3. What is the content of our preparation? The opening prayer at mass today gives us a clear answer. We prepare our “good deeds”. The opening prayer says: “Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with good deeds at his coming, so that, gathered at his right hand, they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom”. The first reading puts it in a similar way: “let us go up to the mountain of the Lord”. Our preparations include entering into the presence of the Lord to encounter him in a more profound manner, to learn his ways and paths. Therefore, the psalmist exclaims “I rejoiced when I heard them say, let us go to the house of the Lord”.
4. Our preparations for the coming of Christ also includes changing our old ways and imbibing the new ways of life in Christ Jesus. It involves a certain metanoia of heart. Haven received the Gospel of Christ, we ought to structure our lives and configure them fit our Christian calling. In the second reading, St. Paul warns us strongly to “give up all things we do under the cover of darkness and embrace the light”. We are the light of the world (Matt. 5:14). We need to cast off the works of darkness and welcome Christ the Light of day (Rom. 13:12). In the gospel passage, Jesus warns us to stand ready at all times because we do not know the hour of the coming of the Son of Man. To “stand ready” means to “prepare ourselves”, to avoid being negligent like the people in the days of Noah.
Finally, let us begin our Advent journey with good deeds, preparing for the coming of Christ with good deeds.
Oh that today you listen to his voice, harden not your hearts.
Rev. Fr. Leonard Maduabuchi Okoli
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