HOMILY THEME: Spiritual preparation for the coming of Our Lord

Baruch 5:1-9
Psalm 126
Phillipians 1:4-6. 8-11
Luke 3:1-6

Once a certain village king was called to make a journey to another kingdom. The journey required traveling through a vast forest, so he requested several of his subjects to accompany him. He put one of them in charge preparing everyone for the trip, and soon they were on their way.

As the sojourners were making their way through the forest, they suddenly encountered a leopard. The king requested a gun from the subject he put in charge. His subject told him that he hadn’t thought to bring a gun. The king became very enraged and told him – “You are such a fool! How could you have forgotten to prepare for any such possibility on our journey?” Then handing him over a stick he said, “Here – take this stick and lead us on to our destination. And then carry it always with you until you find someone who is a bigger fool than you, and then you can pass it on to him.”

The subject went on to keep the stick the king gave him for many years. As the time passed the king became old and ill. The end of his life neared and so he began receiving visits from his subjects at his bedside. One day, the man whom he had rewarded with the stick for being ‘such a fool’ arrived to see the king. He was still carrying the stick. He came to the king and said to him – “Your Majesty, if you allow me, may I ask you a question?” And after permission was granted, he gently asked the king – “My Lord, have you prepared well for this important journey you are about to take?” The king looked at him with surprise and then he said – “Prepared for this journey? I’m ill and near death. How would I have prepared for such a journey?” “Then,” said the subject, gently handing him the stick, “today I have found a greater fool than myself. You have this stick and keep it with you.” And then he walked away quietly.

We are in the Holy Season of Advent and today is the second Sunday. Advent is actually a time of hope and also a time for spiritual preparation for the coming of Our Lord not only at Christmas, which we celebrate every year, but also for His second & final coming at the end of times.

So, during this Holy Period of Advent when we prepare ourselves for the coming of Our Lord, what should our response be? There can be two responses on our part: Firstly, we need once more to hear the challenging call of John the Baptist to baptism of repentance & forgiveness, and connect ourselves to the ocean of God’s mercy; And secondly, we have to realize that our own role is not unlike that of John the Baptist – like him, each one of us has a mission to communicate the message of hope, love, freedom and peace to others. That is the point Paul was making in today’s Second Reading. I’ll read it again: My prayer is that your love for each other may increase more and more, and never stop improving your knowledge and deepening your perception so that you can always recognise what is best. The best that God is demanding of us is our love of one another (Philippians 1:9)

God is totally committed to saving us from ourselves and from each other – totally committed to helping us grow to become more deeply human, wiser and peace filled – to turn the wilderness of so much of modern live into luscious garden, to let the desert blossom and burst forth in stunning life and beauty. But we must cooperate. So, we must be open to change. The past doesn’t matter. God’s forgiveness takes care of that. What matters are today and tomorrow.

If repentance – change – on our part involves a whole other way of seeing life and of relating to God, to each other and to the created world of which God has made us the stewards, where do we start? What do we do? How do we prepare the way of the Lord into our personal lives, and, through us, into our world? What does it involve? The answers to that are found in the message of John the Baptist today.

We are beset with the valleys and mountains of moods. We build mountains out of the mole-hills in our moods. People we know don’t attend Mass because they don’t feel like it. Some stay away from Church because they feel that it’s filled with hypocrites. We let our moods, our feelings, and our emotions block the way of the Lord, and we refuse repentance and conversion toward a new attitude and a new version in life. Repentance and conversion is a process of attitudinal change so that what is seen through the eyes of men to be impossible is now seen through the eyes of God as possible. What is needed is willingness on our parts. What is needed is a belief in the possible rather than our surrender to the seemingly impossible. If we believe that something is possible then it can come true. If, however, we believe that something is impossible, then it will remain impossible for us and never come true.

Repentance and conversion are conscious acts of our wills. They are free choices made with deliberation. They are not religious feelings or moods. They are not nice, warm, glowing, mystical feelings which come upon us before flickering candles in our churches. Repentance and conversion are conscious will-acts made in the cold light of reality and in the hard choices of our everyday lives. To separate religion and religious choices and values from our day to day choices is to remove religion from reality.

Beloved in Christ, repentance and conversion are our own preparation for our journey to eternal life. Not to repent and be converted is to be a great fool.

By: Rev. Fr. Stephen Dayo Osinkoya

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