HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT YEAR B.
TOPIC: THE ADVENT OF CHRIST
Gospel: Mk 13:33-37
Message # 531: “Let Your Trust Be Great”
1. The Marian Message
a) The entire Blue Book of the Blessed Mother’s messages through Fr. Gobbi is all about preparation for the coming of her Son Jesus which will be marked with the triumph of Divine Mercy, coinciding with the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. She gives us all the important reminders and instructions to prepare for this decisive event in our life and in the life of the world. She implores us with her maternal love to conform our lives according to her example, to consecrate our lives to her Immaculate Heart, and to become more and more like her Son Jesus.
b) The Marian message was given for Mexico and El Salvador. These are Catholic countries in Latin America, very much similar to the Philippines. We must also remember that the Philippines was once part of the Diocese of Mexico. We can say that this message can be applied also to our country.
c) The Blessed Mother exhorts us to put our trust in the Lord and her Immaculate Heart during these difficult times. Jesus knows the sad situation we are in now: the increasing power of the enemy, evil and masonry, the scourge of materialism and impurity which lead to more crimes and violence, and the pitiful victims who are mostly the young and the children (letters c and d). During these times, the challenge is strong and urgent: we should become the instruments of the Divine Mercy (letter e).
Against apostasy, let us be witnesses of the true faith; against immorality and perversion, let us be witnesses of holiness; and against violence and hatred, let us be heroic witnesses of love.
d) In these times, many of God’s children are victims of evil in this world. So, the Blessed Mother calls on all of us to be her instruments of healing and her motherly mercy (letter g). Then we also become “the precious instruments of the triumph of my Immaculate Heart in the world” (letter h), which “is near” (letter i). Let our trust be great because during these times, “I will manifest myself to all as a powerful and merciful Mother” (letter k).
2. Some Background Information
a) This is the first Sunday of Advent. We begin a new liturgical year, and so we take a new set of readings – Year B on Sundays and Year 1 on weekdays. The Gospel readings for Sundays will be from St. Mark.
b) Advent is the season in the liturgical calendar, which is composed of 4 Sundays as preparation for Christmas. The liturgical color is violet since Advent Season has a penitential character, but has also the element of hope and joy in the expectation of the Lord’s joyful coming on Christmas. Any major event in the life of a person needs ample preparation. Advent is a preparation for the “appointed time” when God-made-man was born into the world. A meaningful Advent season is necessary for a fruitful celebration of Christmas.
c) “Advent” comes from the Latin word “adventus” (arrival), taken from “advenire”- “ad” (to) + “venire” (come). It means “coming”. The one who is coming is no ordinary person, but the Son of God made man, Jesus Christ. There are three (3) comings of Jesus. The first coming took place on the first Christmas night in Bethlehem. Jesus came as a small and helpless infant. This is what we recall every time Christmas comes. He lived among us as true God and true man. He offered His life on the cross. And after 33 years in this world, He went back to His Father in heaven. This is Jesus’ coming in history.
d) And now, we await His second coming. He will surely come, but nobody knows the exact day and hour. So, with joyful hope and expectation, we await His second coming. This is called the Parousia. He will come, not anymore as a baby, but as the Eternal judge, who will judge the living and the dead, and establish with finality His kingdom in this world. For His faithful followers, this is the much- awaited day of salvation and victory. But for those who rejected Him and who lived in obstinate sinfulness, that day is their damnation. The Second Coming of Jesus is called the coming in majesty.
e) What many of us do not realize is that there is another coming of Jesus. It is between His first and the second coming. Since Jesus is God, and so He is eternal, He is always coming to us at every moment of our lives. He is true to His promise: “I am with you always until the end of time.” His Spirit dwells with us always. It is His abiding presence among us. But in a more concrete way, He comes to us in the sacraments of the Church, which He established. But most especially, and in a real way, He comes to us in the Eucharist. This is the sacrament of His Real Presence. The Blessed Mother calls the Eucharist as the “perennial Nativity”, because in every Eucharistic celebration, Jesus is born to us (Msg 367, letter c). This coming can be called the coming in mystery.
f) It is true that we look forward to His Second Coming as a future event, but we have to remind ourselves always that He comes to us at every moment of our lives, in our moments of silence, in prayers and solitude, in the signs of the times, in the unfolding events around us, and most especially in the sacraments, particularly in the Eucharist. Let us never forget that our preparation for the Second Coming consists in and depends on our meaningful encounter with Him everyday in our life. This is the general theme of the Gospel this Sunday. Jesus comes to us in the sacraments. What is our disposition when we come to Mass? How do we regard the celebration of the other sacraments?
Jesus comes to us in our silence and prayers. Do we find quality time to pray and be with him everyday? Or do we rush our prayers, looking at them more as a duty to fulfill than as an opportunity of a fresh and personal encounter with Jesus?
Jesus comes to us in the persons who are needy. Do we see Jesus in the poor, the prisoners, the sick, jobless and the abandoned? How sincere is our compassion and care for them?
Jesus comes to us in the events and the signs of the times. Can we honestly say that we can feel the presence of Jesus in the day-to-day events of our life?
3. The Sunday Gospel
a) The Gospel this Sunday is clearly an exhortation on vigilance or watchfulness. Jesus will come again as the Eternal Judge. It is a certain event in our life and in the life of the world. But nobody knows about the exact time and day. Hence, there is the need for constant vigilance. In bringing home this message, Jesus used the image of a man traveling overseas and leaves behind his servants to take care of the house. This image reveals to us several important truths.
b) First, the man traveling abroad is the image of Jesus. He lived with us as man in this world for 33 years. Then he went back to his Father in heaven. Temporarily he is not physically present for he ascended into heaven. But he will come back soon and at any time.
c) Second, the servants left behind to take care of the house are the followers of Jesus. He gave each one of us our obligations and duties to fulfill in his house, the Church. And we are expected to do our job well and faithfully. We should never be complacent and irresponsible in the fulfillment of our roles of service to one another, for at any time, without any warning, the Lord may come. It would be such a great misfortune if he finds us not doing our chores: “May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.”
d) Third, the relationship between the master and the servants is based on trust. This is basically our relationship with Jesus. He trusts us, despite our sins and unworthiness. He entrusted to us his many gifts and talents, and he gave us full responsibility over this world we live in. He hopes that we become his trustworthy servants. The time of reckoning will surely come, and we will render an account of our stewardship to him. That is why our preparation for the second coming of the Lord depends totally on how we fulfill our duties as his faithful and trustworthy servants on a daily basis. The second coming of Jesus is not a remote event in the future. Rather, it is something we must be ready in the here and now and at any time: every moment in the present has an eternal significance.
e) With these considerations, the question as to when the second coming of Jesus will happen becomes moot and academic. The time for preparation and vigilance is now. The Lord may come today, tonight or tomorrow or by the next century. But for us, it does not matter when he will come again if we are prepared all the time. Our whole life should be a life spent for Jesus and his kingdom. This, then, will enable us to welcome the coming of Jesus with joyful expectation, hope and eagerness. Such is the spirit and overall theme of Advent: “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus, come!”
4. Closing Song:
“Halina, Hesus, Halina!”
QUESTIONS FOR SHARING IN THE B.E.C.
1. Ang unang pagdating ni Kristo ay ang kanyang pagsilang. Ano ang ginagawa mong paghahanda para sa Pasko?
2. Ang ikalawang pagdating ni Kristo ay ang kanyang pagbabalik sa wakas ng panahon. Ano ang ginagawa mong paghahanda para sa kanyang muling pagbabalik?
3. Si Kristo’y dumarating sa araw-araw ng ating buhay, lalo na sa Eukaristiya. Ano ang paghahanda na ginagawa mo upang maging karapat-dapat sa pagsalubong sa kanya sa Eukaristiya?