YEAR A: HOMILY/REFLECTIONREFLECTION FOR THE 1ST SUNDAY OF ADVENT
TOPIC: ADVENT PREPARATION
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Gospel: Mt 24:37-44 – Vigilance
Message #367: “Prepare Yourselves with Me”
(TO THE PRIESTS, Our Lady’s Beloved Sons, Marian Movement of Priests)
Concept of Advent
a) “Advent” means “coming”. (“ad”- towards + “venire”- to come)
b) Any advent or coming is accompanied by waiting, expectation, anticipation, joy and some sacrifices related to preparations for the guest who will be arriving.
c) Strictly speaking, Advent is the coming of Christ.
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. This is the future event which only the Heavenly Father knows. This could take place at any time.
The Season of Advent
a) The first Season in the liturgical calendar is Advent. We are now in cycle A 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 – mere externals. 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.
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 in the flesh. She invites us: “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).
Relation to the Sunday Gospel
Jesus gives us a very urgent warning. He mentions two catastrophic events in history: the flood during the time of Noah, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah during the time of Lot. Both events took place because: 1) the people have become evil, and 2) they ignored the repeated warnings of God, and just went on with their day-to-day activities as if nothing is about to happen.
During our time, both these factors are present. 1) People have become evil, worse than the time of Noah and Lot. (“Sodomy” came from the name of the city of Sodom which was destroyed by God. This is the sin of homosexuality, sexual perversions and same sex marriages.) 2) People do not care about the teachings and warnings of God. In fact, they believe more easily the errors being taught by the devil rather than the Word of God. They go on with their worldly activities every day unmindful of the events about to take place.
The great flood and the fire from heaven took place so suddenly that the people were caught totally unaware and unprepared. Such events are happening so frequently all over the world (tsunami, earthquakes, accidents, typhoons, terrorist attacks, etc). The Lord wants us to avoid such unfortunate incidents. So, He repeatedly gives us the warning: Prepare! Every day and at all times! Stay awake!
This means that we should be constantly aware of the presence of Christ. We should not prepare for something in the future. It is the now that truly matters. The past is gone but it teaches us the lessons for the present. The future does not yet exist. So the best and only way to prepare for the future is to live the present the best way we can. And the present time that we live in is short – always short. St. Paul said: “Now is the time of salvation! The night is almost over. Let us cast off deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
Closing: Sing the Advent Song: “Halina, Hesus, Halina!”
GUIDE QUESTIONS FOR SHARING IN THE BEC:
- Naniniwala ka ba na mayroong masamang ibinubunga ang ating pagbabale-wala sa mga pangaral at kautusan ng Panginoon na ipinapahayag ng ating mga Obispo at pari ?
- Anu-ano ang mga kabutihang naidudulot ng regular at malimit na pagkukumpisal?
- Ano ang ginagawa nating paghahanda para sa pagsalubong sa Panginoon: sa Pasko? Sa Eukaristiya? Sa Kanyang muling pagbabalik?