YEAR A: HOMILY FOR THE 1ST SUNDAY OF ADVENT
HOMILY THEME: THE LORD IS COMING
BY: Fr Jb Mbbah- Offor.
HOMILY: Is 2:1-5, Rom 13:11-14, Matthew 24:37-44
The Holy Mother Church begins a new liturgical year with this first Sunday of Advent. Advent is a season observed in many Christian Churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for both the celebration of the nativity of Jesus at Christmas and the return of Jesus at the second coming. The word ” Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus which means coming or arrival, which is a translation of the Greek word parousia.
In 6th century, however, Advent was tied to the coming of Christ. But the coming Christians had in mind was not Christ’s first coming in the manger in Bethlehem, but his second coming in the clouds as the judge of the world. It was not until the middle ages that the Advent season was explicitly linked to Christ’s first coming at Christmas.
Advent as we know today was developed in Rome. Pope Gregory I in the late 6th and early 7th century composed many of the prayers, antiphons and Psalms responses. The first important sacred musical form in the medieval period was the Gregorian chant. It was the first official music of the Roman Catholic Church. The chant was named after Pope Gregory I who gave support and impetus to Church music by gathering together and codifying the various chants into a body of religious musical literature. The function of the Gregorian chant was simply for worship and to lift the faithful into a spiritual exultation that was completely detached of the world.
In this Advent, the Church is asking her children to prepare for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a period of the coming of Christ. Christ’s coming is three dimensional – past, present, future. Jesus came into this world when he was born in Bethlehem. He continues to come to us through the prayer, holy sacraments and various experiences. He will come again at the end of time to judge the living and the dead. Advent has two parts. The first part is from the first Sunday of Advent until December 16th which deals with the preparation for the second coming of Christ. The second part starts from December 17th to 24th which prepares us for the commemoration of the first coming of Christ ( Christmas).
Advent and lent are not the same. Advent stresses hope and joy while lent stresses penance and sorrow. Advent stresses preparation with festivity, while lent stresses preparation with sackcloth and ashes; Advent features the prophet Isaiah while lent features the prophet Jeremiah.
The readings of this Sunday focus on vigilance, not as an agonising wait for the Lord/judge at the end of our lives, but awareness to the presence of the Lord today. The first reading tells us of the new world that will begin with the coming of the Lord. The second reading invites us to open our eyes to discern the signs of the new day which has already dawned. The Gospel tells us to be vigilant so that we may welcome Christ at his Advent. 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. The verses of today’s Gospel are a warning never to become so immersed in time that we forgot eternity, never to let our concern with worldly affairs, however necessary, completely distract us from remembering that there is a God, that the issues of life and death are in his hands, and that whenever his call comes, at morning, noon, or at evening, it must find us ready.
Let’s be awake and prepare for the coming of the Lord. To be awake is to be conscious. Steps to being awake are: prayer, listening to God (meditation), studying the Bible, obedience to God and inviting the Holy Spirit in your life. John the Baptist was crying out in the desert, saying, ” prepare the way for the Lord, make straight his paths” ( Is 40: 3, Matthew 3:3), which is what we are called to do during this holy season. The best preparation to meet the Lord at all times is to lead a righteous life. It consists in performance of our duties. Let’s not harden our hearts.
Fr Jb Mbbah- Offor.