1ST SUNDAY OF ADVENT (YEAR B) – HOMILY
THEME: You Must Stay Awake
BY: Fr. Uchenna Onyejiuwa
The Advent season is the first liturgical season of the Church that stretches from the first to the fourth Sunday. Each of these Sundays is represented by a special and symbolic candle known as Advent Wreath, signifying Hope, Peace, Joy and Love, respectively. The season offers all of us, Christ’s faithful, a golden opportunity for a fresh start, it pleads and encourages all who straggled in the previous year to find their way back into the bus of salvation with a renewed sense of commitment and zeal.
Advent is essentially a season of prayerful waiting for the coming of the Messiah, in commemoration and in anticipation of the parousia as represented by the first and second readings. Ordinarily, waiting for any kind of rescue or liberation (physical or spiritual) presupposes that one is in a precarious and tense situation, which is a recipe for sorrow and anxiety. No wonder the colour of the season is purple like that of Lent and Funeral. This waiting, Christ tells us in the Gospel of today, demands our full alertness because the master whom we are expecting will come at an hour we do not know. It is paramount, therefore, that we stay awake because the people who are alert are often those who get rescued in every rescue operation. The question now is, what does it mean to be alert in our context? We can find answers in the first and second readings.
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The first reading presents us with the cry of the exilic people of Israel who seeing how deeply messed up their lives were acknowledged their faults/sins and pleaded for God’s mercy and deliverance. So, alertness in this context means acknowledgement of our sins and working to amend them while hoping for the Redeemer to come and redeem us from the abyss our actions have put us in. This amendment which involves witnessing to Christ with our lives is essential for us to acquire the gifts of the spirit that will set us apart from the rest of the world when the Redeemer comes; which is one of the the things St. Paul appreciates in the second reading about the Corinthians.
My dear friends, let’s not disregard this invitation to stay awake as irrelevant. The truth is, we are in no less a mess than the people of Israel at that time; one can even dare to say that our own case is worse, coupled with the so many factors that are encouraging us to easily lapse in faith. Therefore, as this season offers us this special opportunity to prepare for the commemoration of this Christmas event we should also try to make it an occasion to pray and prepare earnestly for God’s intervention in our current spiritual, moral and economic bankrupt situation. From the way I see it, we are currently in desperate need of redemption. May the grace and love of God abide with us as we prepare for Christ’s coming. Peace be with you.
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