HOMILY FOR THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT YEAR B.
HOMILY THEME: TEAR THE HEAVENS
BY: Fr. Gerald M Musa
Which is your favourite Christmas song? There are so many beautiful Christmas Carols. One old famous songs that set the stage for Christmas is known as Veni, Veni Emmanuel (13th Century).
The first stanza of the song:
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And Ransom Captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here, Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee O Israel.
No doubt such Christmas songs have a powerful effect in our lives as they provide a keynote for the season. In addition, Scripture readings selected for the season of Advent prepare our minds for the coming of Christ. For example, in one of the texts, the prophet Isaiah desperately cries in his prayers for the Lord to come into the world and make it better:
Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage.
Oh, that you would tear the heavens and come down (Isaiah 63:18-19)
The prophet observed that the people had forsaken God and decided to follow their desires. They wanted to exercise their freedom, and in doing so they thought that God should be kept at arm’s length.
Just like the prophet, today’s parents, teachers, preachers, the elderly, and spiritually conscious people who carefully observe a morally sinking world persistently pray for a new social and moral order. It is common today to see many people who were once strong in the faith, including altar servers and choir members abandon their faith and embrace the material world and a busy lifestyle that gives no space for God.
Very often many people forget and desert God at the height of strength and success. Two things occur when people hit rock bottom after the glamour of success has vanished. Some would resort to all forms of pleasure that give temporary meaning to life and others who are wise would simply invite God back into their lives. Isaiah chose the latter solution for his people when he prayed. He pleaded on behalf of a people who abandoned God. He spoke with deep emotions to God, saying:
Behold, you are angry,
and we are sinful;
all of us have become like unclean people,
all our good deeds are like polluted rags;
we have all withered like leaves,
and our guilt carries us away like the wind.
There is none who calls upon your name,
who rouses himself to cling to you; for you have hidden your face from us and have delivered us up to our guilt.
Yet, O LORD, you are our father;
we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands (Isaiah 64:4-7).
Psalm 80:4 is another passionate cry to God from a people who wandered far away from God and are desperately wanting to return: Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
The season of advent is a period of preparation to remember not only the birth, but also a time to proclaim his second return. It is in relation to his second coming that Christ advises us:
“Be watchful! Be alert!
You do not know when the time will come. As we wait for the second coming of Jesus into the world, we pray:
Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil,
Graciously grant us peace in our days,
that by the help of your mercy,
we may be always free from sin,
and safe from all distress,
as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ!
The first Chapter of the book of Revelation opens with a declaration where the Lord identifies himself saying: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” The last chapter of this last book concludes with a powerful prayer that resonates with the season of advent: “Amen, come Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20). This prayer is expressed in Aramaic word Maranatha, which means “Come Oh Lord.” Maranatha is a mantra we should continually repeat as we enter into the season of advent. It is a season when we wait in expectation to celebrate the coming of Jesus into the world. This Mantra helps to draw people’s attention to Christ.
The season of Advent challenges everyone to make some spiritual plans to receive Jesus at Christmas. Here are some suggestions:
• Intensify or revive your prayer life; attend Mass not only on Sunday; read the scriptures daily.
• Reflect and see if there are people you need to forgive and wrongdoings you will like to confess.
• For Christmas gifts think beyond your family: identify people who are troubled, lonely and bereaved and share the peace of Christ with them; the gift of yourself and time is the most precious that you can give.
• The more spiritually prepared you are, the better, the more joyful and meaningful the Christmas will be to you.
First Sunday of Advent, Year B; Isaiah 63, 16-17. 19; 64, 2-7;
Psalm 80; 1Corinthians 1, 3-9;
Mark 13: 33-37