Homily for the 1st Sunday of Advent Year A
Theme: Let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the amour of light.
By: Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf
Homily for Sunday December 1 2019
READINGS: Isaiah 2: 1-5, Ps. 122, Rom. 13: 11-14, Matthew 24: 37-44
For some few weeks now, most of the readings have been cautioning us to be careful to avoid the uncertainty. We are grateful to God for paddling us safely through the last year of the Church to this first day of the new liturgical year of the Church. We congratulate ourselves who by grace made it to this New Year and say happy new year to ourselves.
Advent is the period that begins the yearly calendar of the Catholic Church. The year of the Church begins by announcing that the expected and promised Messiah is coming. From the Latin origin “ad ventus” (meaning the coming of something or somebody and for us Christians that somebody very important is Jesus Christ our redeemer. His coming is celebrated in twofold namely: the commemoration of his birth (first coming) and the anticipation of the parousea (the second coming and consummation of all things in Christ). The Advent as a season of the Church is broken into two: the first part is from first Sunday of Advent to 16th December which is the period of unsure expectation and the second stage is from 17th December to 24th prior the Vigil mass of Christmas. This is the period of sure expectation. The readings and spirit of the first part is of the anticipation of his second coming and how terrible and wonderful it will be depicting the time of final judgment while the second stage deals with the joyful news of the birth/nativity of the Messiah.
The use of the purple vestment is not indicative of sorrow and penitence as in Lent but of expectation and uncertainty of events; it’s about anticipation of the future and uncertainty of what it holds. The suspension of the Gloria is not also with same meaning as that of Lent but to put to a purse that song of the angels at his birth so that on the eve of Christmas the Church would join the hosts of Angels to sing the song anew and put the Church in joyful mood as at the first time it happened. This advent season is of four weeks depicted by the four coloured candles of the advent crib. Most of the Advent wreaths have three colours of Purple, Pink and White and some use blue to replace the purple. Some use two colours of Purple and Pink. Some make theirs four colours with white candle in the middle of the 3 Purples and one Pink. The first Sunday has a purple candle lit with some biblical readings and some prayers and the meaning of that candle is Prophecy candle or Candle of Hope. The second Sunday has yet another purple with prayers and readings and it means The Bethlehem Candle or the Candle of Preparation. The third Sunday is Pink meaning The Shepherd Candle or Candle of Joy. The fourth Sunday has purple which means The Angel Candle or the Candle of Love. If the fifth Sunday comes then the white is lit but if not, it is lit same day on the fourth Sunday. It is called Christ Candle breaking the joy of his birth and coming into human world of history.
Advent is the time the Christians who are alive today get ready for the second coming of Christ. The people of old waited for the coming of the Messiah prophesied to them for ages; it came and met some of them prepared like the Blessed Virgin Mary, St Joseph and the likes. Some found his coming so abrupt and regrettably un-prepared such as Herod and his likes. Some such as the Magi were happily waiting for it and did not find his coming sudden or regrettable but joyful. Today many Christians spend time celebrating His first coming as if they were the people of old and forgetting the necessary for his second coming that we await as we profess in the creed. The first coming was to be gracious and glorious as he brings joy to the world; the second coming which is here with us and which we should actually await in hope this advent is judgmental and rewarding. It can be joyful for those who truly were spiritually awake and did the necessary but sorrowful to the spiritually asleep.
Beloved in Christ, it was the darkness of the life of the world that attracted God to be incarnate and be born as Christ. He came to make us cast off the works of darkness and put on the amour of Christ which is of love and peace as seen in the first reading in the beating of swords of war into ploughshares for farming and arrows into pruning hooks for plucking fruits. It is furthered by the peaceful manner of living between warring nations. When we do these, we then climb the mountain of the Lord which shall be established as the highest mountain.
Beloved, we are called by this season as we heard in the gospel to be watchful in all that we do because the Son of Man shall come at an hour we do not expect. Many people would go on doing their normal sinful and day to day activities when the Lord shall come and take the prepared that were watchful and leave the rest to suffer. This happened in the days of Noah as in the days of Lot and till today humanity are still careless and not watchful of their ways. May we not face the fate of the unfortunate one among two women grinding corn, or the one in the field that is not taken. May this life never take us unaware or find us unprepared but may the grace of God help us to be alert and ready at any time he comes, Amen.
Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf