YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 1ST SUNDAY OF ADVENT
HOMILY THEME: ADVENT SEASON: A PERIOD OF WATCHING AND WAITING!
BY: Fr. Benedict Agbo
HOMILY: *Is 63 : 16 – 64 : 8, 1 Cor 1 : 3 – 9, Mk 13 : 33 – 37.
The early Christians had 4 allied conceptions of the end time that made them fearfully vigilant ; (1) They dreaded the day of the Lord, Amos 5 : 18 – 20, Is 13 : 9, Joel 2 : 1, etc. (2) The prophesied fall of Jerusalem that finally happened in 70 Ad, Lk 21 : 5 – 11. (3) The 2nd coming of Christ, 1 Thess 4 : 16 & 5 : (4) The idea of impending persecution / martyrdom, Mk 13 : 9. The summary of the Church’s escatological teachings is the imminent coming of the end (the time is irrelevant) and the ultimate reign of Christ (destruction of the Satanic systems of evil, Rev 18 – The fall of Babylon the great city, the famous prostitute who corrupted the earth with her fornication) and the reward of good and evil, Matt 25 : 31 – 46.
B. THE THEOLOGY OF WATCHING AND WAITING
With this background, today’s gospel says : ‘Be on your guard, stay awake because you do not know the time the Master of the house is coming’. In the parable of the foolish virgins, Matt 25 : 1 – 11, we take note that what made them foolish was not lack of knowledge but lack of vigilance. Vigilance is the first and the last word of the Church. The Church teaches us to be watching and waiting always because we do not know when the Master is coming so that he does not find us asleep (in mortal sin) .
In the theology of watching and waiting, we speak of the following dimensions ; (1) Watching in vigilance, Matt 25 : 1-20 , (2) Waiting in communion, 1 Cor 1: 2 – 9 – You will not be without the gift of the Spirit while you are waiting for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed and he will keep you steady without blame (purity) , 1 Thess 5 : 4 – 8. (3) Waiting in perseverance, Rom 5 : 1 – 4.
Ours is a society where patience /ability to wait has become the scarcest commodity in the market place of virtues. Check our banks and see impatience ; Look at our traffic and see rush ; Examine how we distribute food/entertainment during ceremonies and see impatience at work; Our young girls can no longer wait for husbands ; Our young men no longer wait to gradually make their money ; Our students can no longer wait to learn ; Our parents can no longer wait for their children to grow up before burdening them with responsibilities, etc. According to Fr Emma Onuh of blessed memory, ‘The Christmas Jesus is a very popular man but the Jesus of the Advent and Lenten season is always abandoned in all our Churches, denied in the market place, ridiculed in the offices and defiled on the streets of our daily lives. Why? Because of the “Instant – service – mentality” of our present day society ‘.
A good Advent season begets a good Christmas season while a good Lenten season guarantees a good Easter season. The Advent season is a period of waiting placed by the Church before Christmas and Easter to teach us that joy comes after mourning, Ps 30 : 5. The liturgical significance of the purple colour used during Advent, Lent and Funerals is vigilance. Green signifies normal life. White is for the joyful seasons (eg Christmas and Easter) while red signifies martyrdom and the Holy Spirit. Romans 5 : 1 – 4 gives us the connection between waiting and the Holy Spirit ; Suffering brings perseverance which brings hope which does not fail us because the Holy Spirit is poured out when there is hope.
Those who wait upon the Lord will have their strength renewed, Is 40 : 30. According to Fr Emma Onuh, ‘The engine of hope is powered by the oil of patience, while patience is the ability to wait gainfully’. Life itself from womb to tomb is a whole project of waiting. We must wait to be born ; to grow up, to go to school, to get admission, to graduate, to get a job/start a business, to get married, to have children ; we must wait to train them, wait to die and even in purgatory, we must wait to go to heaven. Why the female anatomy in general biology seems to be a hybrid superior to the male specie is that they are more patterned to waiting than the male; waiting for suitors, waiting for fruits of the womb, and waiting for their children to grow up and to succeed in life. This is perhaps why they survive more in the womb and outside the womb and generally live longer than men.
We must learn to watch and wait for the coming of our Lord in purity and devotion. Our 1st reading says that God is our father and we are the clay. He is the Potter and we are the work of his hands, Is 64 : 6. We must wait for God to mould and direct our destiny, Jer 29 : 11. We must put on the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Love in order to watch and wait till the end. Happy Advent Season dear friends!
FR BEN AGBO