Theme: “Stand erect and raise your heads because your liberation is at hand. Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap … Be vigilant at all times and pray” (Lk 21).
By: Fr Jude Chijioke
Homily for Sunday November 28 2021
Jeremiah 33, 14-16; 1 Thessalonians 3,12-4: 2; Luke 21: 25-28, 34-36
Our liturgical readings today offer us on this first Sunday of Advent pages woven on a plot of images that are engraved in the listener’s imagination, waiting to be inscribed in his heart and in his life. There is a first symbol that we could call agricultural. Jeremiah first presents it to us in a text that has become famous for the messianic interpretation as attributed by the Jewish and Christian traditions. Taking the cue from the traditional representation of a family tree, the prophet announces – also in the wake of a famous Isaian prophecy 11:1 (“out of the stump of David’s family a sprout will shoot”) – the blossoming of an extraordinary shoot on the tree of David.
The sprout is a sign of life, of the future, of movement, of hope. A descendant of David will therefore open a new horizon towards which the attention of all the people will be drawn. And Jeremiah himself dissolves the symbolic value of that twig: the name of that king shall, in fact, be “Sprout of Justice” and his capital, the future Jerusalem, that Jerusalem that is possible by faith in Jesus Christ, the heavenly Jerusalem.
He will be called “The Lord our Justice”. Here, then, is the magic word that humanity has been repeating for centuries in thousand languages, had dreams in anticipation of her but which alone, with her own hands, never managed to build in history. Opening the new liturgical year, the Church proposes to us the only Lord of Justice towards which our gaze must be fixed, who we must follow to build a city of justice and peace.
The second symbol of Advent is that of ‘the way’. The image of the road ahead cuts through the whole of today’s responsorial psalm taken from a very fervent supplication, Psalm 25 (24). It is enough just to collect the words: “Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths, guide me in your truth and teach me”. The Bible insistently repeats that not all ways are the same: there is the way of good, life and peace and there is that of evil, death and hatred; there is the wide and easy way but with a tragic outcome and there is the harsh and narrow one that climbs towards the splendor of God.
The psalmist asks God to guide him on the right path so as not to skid in the desert. And this is a necessary prayer for us too, often tempted by many deviations from the main road of truth and justice, often without a lantern to walk in the night path of doubts, often blocked by apparently insurmountable obstacles that force us to stop.
Dense with other images, not always easy to decipher for us, is the so-called “discourse on ultimate realities” that Jesus addresses to us today through the editorial office of Luke the evangelist who will accompany us throughout this liturgical year we are now inaugurating. Above all, the stormy and apocalyptic images, typical of those centuries and used to symbolically indicate the effective irruption of God into the confused and scandalous history of man, are impressive. We, however, stop at an image underlying almost all of the discourses of Jesus, that of “night and day”. Darkness supposes sleep, the burden of body and spirit, inert abandonment, the mysterious cobweb of nocturnal crimes, the fleeting castles of dreams.
The dawn, on the other hand, marks the passage to action, to attention, to being awake and alert, to “raising one’s head”, to thinking, to waiting. Christ opts for the light of day and wants his disciple to come out of the night and darkness, from vice, from indifference, from the snares that imprison us to things. He wants the disciple to stand up and raise his head towards the light, peace, love, truth, and justice. Let us, then, make a new portrait of the Christian emerge from this Advent liturgy: portrait of a man or woman of justice, a racer on the straight path, a citizen not of night and death but of the day and life. Be Vigilant and pray always!
Fr Jude Chijioke
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