YEAR A: HOMILY FOR THE 1ST SUNDAY OF ADVENT.
THEME: PREPARE FOR THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST.
BY: Fr Cyril Unachukwu CCE.
Every new beginning is a moment of grace; an opportunity to better oneself, to change from old and ungodly ways to new and saintly ways; and to re-define and re-affirm one’s purpose in life. The Liturgical Year, with the unfolding of the Liturgical Seasons, gives us this ample privilege. It is always a spiritual journey and a pilgrimage of faith in hope and charity, within which the merits of Christ are made available and accessible to us. May this New Liturgical Year be for us all a period of integral growth and renewal; Amen.
The Liturgical Year is arranged in such a way that the true goal of the Christian Life is kept always at the forefront. The Liturgical Year ends with the Solemnity of Christ the King, bringing us together to profess the Kingship of Christ with special emphasis on its eschatological character. The Liturgical Year begins with the Season of Advent, inviting us to prepare for the Second Coming of Christ, when He will return in glory to judge the living and the dead. Communion with God stands at the heart of this process; because every instance of the Liturgical Year is aimed at our true conversion here on earth and at the glorification of God; and finally for our eternal Communion with God in His Kingdom. The Word Advent means Coming or Arrival. The Season of Advent is laden with the theme of Coming or Arrival from the beginning to its very end. Divided in two parts, the first part (from the First Sunday of Advent to the 16th of December) focuses on the Second Coming of Christ at the end of time, with a fundamental call to integral preparation, so as not to be taken unawares. The Second Part (from the 17th to the 24th of December) focuses on the commemoration of the birth of Christ at Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. The Nativity of Christ remains a decisive instance in the History of Salvation. Preparing to celebrate the Nativity of Christ is a profession of faith in the fact that God is with us and since He is with us, no power can succeed in being against us (Rom 8:31). This tone of preparation gives the Season of Advent its penitential outlook that is reflected in the Liturgy with the omission of the Gloria at Mass during Advent except on Feast Days and Solemnities.
The Readings of today bring us to reflect on the reality of where we are heading to as sons and daughters of God. It has always been God’s wish to gather us all into one family. The First Reading (Isaiah 2:1-5) brings to mind this wish of God; “in the days to come the mountain of the Temple of the Lord shall tower above the mountains and be lifted higher than the hills. All the nations will stream to it; peoples without number will come to it.” God’s Salvific Design is for all persons of all nations. But to participate in this Salvific Design of God, one has to make a movement towards God. This movement, that requires a very conscious decision, is the heart of the preparation that is central to the Advent Season. In the Second Reading (Romans 13:11-14), Saint Paul brings us to understand what this movement entails; “let us give up all the things we prefer to do under cover of the dark… no drunken orgies, no promiscuity or licentiousness, and no wrangling or jealousy. Let your armour be the Lord Jesus Christ.” In nutshell, it is a movement away from evil to goodness; a movement away from darkness to the light; a movement away from the domain of the Evil One to the domain of God. Consistency is the watchword here and the surest secret to a stable progress and readiness to meet with the Lord. Jesus never failed to remind His followers of the need to be ready at all times and to be consistent in the practice of virtues. In the Gospel Reading (Matthew 24:37-44) Jesus continued to lay emphasis on this; “you too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Hence, Advent is also a Season to request for and cultivate the virtue of consistency in our ongoing preparation to keep ourselves ready and fit for the coming of Christ in glory.
Lord Jesus, You are the plenitude of all our true human aspirations. You came in human form to set us free from ancient clutches. May Your coming in glory to establish us in Your Kingdom never meet us unprepared; Amen. Wishing you a Happy Sunday, a grace-filled Liturgical Year and a fruitful Advent Season;
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