HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE 1ST SUNDAY OF ADVENT YEAR B
TOPIC: THE COMING OF CHRIST
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Gospel: Lk 21:25-28, 34-36
Message #367: “Prepare Yourselves with Me”
(TO THE PRIESTS, Our Lady’s Beloved Sons, Marian Movement of Priests)
1. Concept of Advent
a) “Advent” comes from “advenire” (“ad”- towards + “venire”- to come). The word “adventus” means ‘arrival’ or ‘coming’.
b) Any advent or coming is accompanied by waiting, expectation, anticipation, joy and some sacrifices related to preparations for the expected guest.
c) Strictly speaking, Advent is the coming of Christ.
2. The Three Comings of Christ
a) The first coming was Christmas – the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, the Incarnation. This is the past event.
b) The second is the coming of Jesus in the here and now, especially in the sacraments and the “signs of the times”. This is the present and ongoing event.
c) The third coming is the Second Coming of Christ or “Parousia” as Judge of the living and the dead. (“Christ has died, Christ is risen. Christ will come again”). This is the future event, which only the Heavenly Father knows. This could take place any time.
3. The Season of Advent
a) The first Season in the liturgical calendar is Advent. We are now in cycle C of the Sunday readings. This season has four Sundays before Christmas. The liturgical color is light violet, (as differentiated from the dark violet of Lent), to signify penance mixed with joyful expectation.)
b) The Season of Advent is a time for preparation for the coming of Christ. Since Christ has 3 comings, we should have also 3 manners of preparation.
c) For the first coming, our preparation is for the season of Christmas. This is what we are good at. Christmas is in the air. It is the season of cheer, shopping, parties, and gifts. This is what most of us are preparing for every year – the mere externals and non-essentials! So after Christmas, our spirits and our pockets are empty! The real preparation for Christmas should be spiritual – concerning our soul and our relationship with God. That is precisely the significance of the liturgical color of violet: we are encouraged to do some acts of penance and sacrifices to make Christmas truly meaningful and grace-filled. We are reminded to go to Confession and reconcile with God, and accompany these with acts of mercy, both corporal and spiritual.
d) For the second coming – in the sacraments and the present signs of the times – our preparation is in our constant awareness of the presence of Christ in our daily lives: 1) in the celebration of the sacraments and 2) in the lives and persons of the little ones, the poor and the oppressed. This is what the Lord in the Gospel this Sunday is talking about when He said: “Stay awake!” – constant awareness of the present event, viz., the presence of Christ (“I am with you always until the end of time.”)
e) For the third and final coming of Christ – the Second Coming or Parousia – our preparation should not be for some remote event in the future, because this could happen at any time. Rather, if we do well our preparations for Christmas (first coming/past event) and for the present coming of Jesus in the sacraments and in the poor, we need not panic or be frantic in our preparations for the Parousia.
4. The Marian Message
The Blessed Mother is with us in our Advent preparation. In fact, together with John the Baptist, she is the most prominent Advent figure because it was she who conceived Jesus in her womb. Her pregnancy was the actual Advent of God in the flesh. Jesus, the Incarnate God, was made flesh in the womb of Mary. She invites us, therefore, to “Prepare yourselves with me!”
a) She joins us in preparing for the liturgical celebration of Christmas (letter b). Faith, hope, charity and prayer should intensify.
b) She is also with us in our preparation to encounter Jesus in the Eucharist (letter c). In every Eucharistic celebration, Jesus is born in our midst. It is a perennial Christmas. We should also be aware that we encounter Jesus today in the lives of the poor, the needy and helpless (letter d).
c) She helps us in our preparation for the Second Coming of Christ (letter e). She is the dawn announcing the coming of Jesus, the glorious Sun that gives light to the world, driving away the darkness of unbelief, sin, impurity, hatred and egoism (letters e, f, g, h and i).
5. Reflections on the Sunday Gospel
a) God is the Alpha and the Omega; He is the beginning and the end. This Sunday, we begin the new liturgical year, but Jesus is speaking about the end; and when he speaks about the end, he is also speaking about the beginning. In God, there is no past and future; everything is the eternal NOW.
b) As we begin the new liturgical year, Jesus is describing the end-times. This is the first part of the Gospel this Sunday. He warns of terrifying signs to come. But actually, the events he was describing have already been taking place. Unfortunately, however, people are ignoring these signs. That is why, the Gospel is being proclaimed repeatedly to us, not to terrify us and push us into panic, but to warn us. We should never ignore the signs of the times. God does not want us to suffer eternal damnation. This warning is meant to wake us up from our worldly intoxication and stupor.
c) As faithful followers of Jesus, there is nothing to be afraid of, for we are not among the people “who will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world.” Through the sacraments and through our faithful obedience to God’s will, we are united with God, and we try our best to “be blameless in holiness before our God”, remaining always pleasing to God. The coming of the Lord at the end of time is something we look forward to: “But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”
d) The second part of the Gospel is the strong admonition by Jesus on how to be vigilant and ready for such events: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life.” Advent Season is the time for preparation – that is why it has a penitential character (there is no Gloria in the Mass, and the liturgical color is violet). This is the time to shake off the dust of our sins and vices, and begin a new life, so that, as we prepare liturgically for the first coming of Jesus on Christmas, we will also prepare spiritually for the second coming of Christ as Judge.
e) This warning is very appropriate during this time of the year. Everybody is looking forward to a fun-filled and extravagant celebration of Christmas. Despite the economic crisis, people are still thinking of the Christmas bonus, parties, gifts, shopping and many cultural and commercial attractions. (That is why even Muslims and non-Christians look forward to Christmas because of these things.) In this consumer-driven and materialistic society, it is so easy to lose sight of the real meaning of Christmas – the giant lavishly ornamented Christmas tree overshadows the crib of the Incarnate God, yuletide carols drown the spiritual atmosphere, Christ is dwarfed by Santa Claus, Simbang Gabi is just secondary to puto bumbong and bibingka. Even the greeting “Merry Christmas” is slowly being replaced with “Happy Holidays!” We are now gradually losing the real meaning of Christmas. Making the best out of the Advent Season, therefore, is quite necessary in order not to lose our focus on Jesus who will come again.
Song: “Halina Hesus, Halina” or any Advent Song
QUESTIONS FOR SHARING IN THE B.E.C.
1. Bakit ang bati na “Merry Christmas” ay unti- unti nang napapalitan ng “Happy Holidays”? Ano ang ibig sabihin ng kaganapan na ito?
2. Ano ang mga nakagawian natin sa pagdiriwang ng Pasko na hindi tumutugma sa mga turo ng ating Panginoon?
3. Ano ang mga “pros and cons” ng nakagawian na nating “gift-giving” tuwing Pasko?