YEAR A: HOMILY FOR THE 1ST SUNDAY OF ADVENT
HOMILY THEME: STAY AWAKE!
BY: Fr. Ben Agbo
HOMILY: * Is 2 : 1 – 6, Rom 13 : 11 – 14, Matt 24 : 37 – 44.
The time has come when believers shall learn to walk in the light of the Lord, Is 2 : 1 – 6. The Prophet Isaiah was a man of great spiritual vision – they call him the new Testament prophet of the old Testament. He prophesied that ‘In the days to come, the mountain of the temple of the Lord will tower above the mountains and be lifted higher than the hills. All nations will stream to it and say : ‘Come let us go to the mountain of the Lord to the temple of God’, cf Ps 122.
According to the Expositor’s Bible commentary, ‘The promised elevation of Mount Zion (image of the Church) underlies its spiritual preeminence as the source of divine teaching for the nations’.
– Is 2 : 3 – Many people will come to it and say : ‘Come let us go up to the house of the God of Jacob (not Esau or Ishmael) that he may teach us his ways so that we may walk in his paths’.
* With the recent developments in world politics, especially with the government of America going into the hands of people like Donald Trump, we are only hoping that the time has come for the world to uphold the principles of Christianity over and above other conflicting religious ideologies.
B. LET’S BE SOBER!
Let us give up all the works of darkness and be spiritually sober, Rom 13 : 11 – 14. This was the passage that converted St Augustine when he was commanded by the angel of God ‘Take and read!’. Let us live decently as people do in day time : (i) No reveries (bad music and dancing), (ii) No drunkenness (excess alcoholism or smoking), (iii) No debauchery (adultery and fornication), (iv) No licentiousness (overindulgence in worldly pleasures), (v) No quarreling and (vi) No jealousy. We must be guided by the spirit so that we would no longer yield to the works of the flesh, Gal 5 : 16f.
C. THE ADVENT SEASON
The Advent season, marked by the liturgical use of violet vestments, reminds us of the suddenness of death. We must be prepared at all times. The gospel warns that it is going to be like in the days of Noah when people were busy living sensual lives when the day of the Lord came.
According to St Theresa of Avila, ‘He who does not pray does not need the devil to lull him to hell fire. He has chosen to eagerly proceed there by himself’.
There are 4 dimensions of the Lord’s coming (Advent) ; (i) His physical coming in the flesh which took place over 2000 years ago, Jn 1 :14, (ii) His spiritual coming into our hearts, especially each time we hear his word or receive him worthily in the Eucharist, Rev 3 : 20, (iii) The escatological primer – his first coming at the time of our death, Heb 9 : 27, and (iv) The escatological finale – his final coming as our judge, 1Thess 4 : 14 – 16.
D. SPIRITUAL PROSPERITY
The good news is that Christ came to undo the works of Satan and enable us inherit wholistic prosperity.
The purpose of the Lord’s coming are ; (i) To preach the good news to the poor, (ii) Deliverance to the captives, (iii) Sight to the blind, (iv) Freedom to the oppressed, (v) Proclamation of the year of the Lord’s favour (prosperity), Lk 4 : 18 – 19.
Spiritual prosperity is holistic prosperity. It is the A – level and end point of the gospel not its starting point as some think. This is only possible through the teaching /enthronement of the ‘new civilization of love’ that Christ brought (borrowing the phraseology of Pope St John Paul II). It is our bounden duty today to prove to the Muslims, for example, that what Christianity has for the modern man is better than what the Islamic religion has. While the former teaches people to love their enemies and forgive those who trespass against them, the latter teaches one to hate their enemies and kill infidels /those who do not accept their own faith.
Christ has died (and in the past has completed was was required for our REDEMPTION). Christ is risen (and in the present, his grace enables us to believe in him and have REPENTANCE unto our salvation). Christ will come again (and in the future, his spirit working in us will transform our lives through REGENERATION into the blessedness of Saints).
Just go to the mountain of the Lord where prayer and spiritual reading enables us have what Kent Hughes calls ‘Intentional programming’. Just like a computer programs softwares to act in a particular way, so does the Word of God program us to act like children of God. He proposes a serious disciplining of the mind through custody of the senses (St Ignatius of Loyola), Phil 4 : 8.
Finally, we must stay awake. According to Cardinal John Henry Newman, ‘We are not simply to believe but to watch ; not simply to love and obey, but to watch and thus it happens that watching is the most suitable test of a Christian because it makes you detached from what is present and sets your mind on what is coming – Christ’.
Happy Sunday dear friends and happy new liturgical year!