YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 2ND SUNDAY OF ADVENT
HOMILY THEME: THE THREE CARDINAL R’s OF ADVENT PREPARATIONS.
BY: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
HOMILY: R1 – Is 40:1-5,9-11
RESP. PS. – PS. 85:9-14
R2 – 2Pt 3:8-14
GOSPEL – Mk 1:1-8
At the 250th anniversary of the founding of the prestigious Harvard University, USA, the students marched in a torchlight procession according to their levels (classes). The most memorable and significant group was the Freshman Class, (first year students), just one month old as of the time of the anniversary. They emerged with a gigantic banner reading, “The Prestigious Harvard University Has Been Waiting 250 Years for Us.” Contextually put, the New Testament presents Jesus Christ and exclaims that all the ages have been waiting for His arrival, that all history has been preparing for His coming.
Beloved in Christ, in this Second Sunday of Advent, the church, through John the Baptist, presents us Jesus Christ; exclaiming that all the ages have been waiting for His arrival, that all history has been preparing for His coming; inviting us to get ready in desirous and ardent preparations for His coming, grand reception and rebirth in our hearts.
Isaiah in the first reading, precisely taken from the Deutro (second) Isaiah, which covers the entire range of the time of high hopes and expectations of their redemption and liberation; tells us about the Babylonian exiles coming home to their native country, Judah, and their holy city, Jerusalem.
St Peter, in the Second reading, invites us to get ready to go home to Heaven with Jesus at his Second Coming. Peter tells those who doubt the Second Coming of Jesus that God’s way of counting time is different from ours and that God has His own reasons for delaying the Second Coming of Christ.
Whereas, in the Gospel reading, John the Baptist tells us how we should prepare to receive Jesus our Savior’s “coming home” into our lives during the Advent season by repentance, reconciliation and spiritual rebirth. John preached that the appropriate behavior for those preparing “the way of the Lord” was to be baptized “as they confessed their sins.” He wanted the Jews to prepare their lives for the Messiah by filling in the valleys of prejudice, leveling the mountains of pride and straightening out their crooked paths of injustice and immorality. John recommended a baptism of repentance in the river Jordan to the Jews who were familiar with ritual and symbolic washings.
However, the entire readings of today’s liturgy give us some dimensions of preparations that are anchored on three R’s, viz:
_(Let every valley be filled in)_
At the heart of Jesus’ mission and kerygma (teaching) is REPENTANCE (Mk. 1:15; Mtt. 3:2; 4:17).
Repentance from its Greek rendition, “μετάνοια” (metanoia), suggests “a rethink” or “beyond/after the mind.” Repentance begins with a rethink.
The paradigm of the prodigal son in Luke 15, features us with the procedure we ought to embrace in having “a rethink or after thought” that triggers true repentance.
The journey of the prodigal son’s repentance began when he thought within himself:
Then he came to his senses
and said, “How many of my
father’s hired men have all
the food they want and more,
and here am I dying of hunger!
So, our own journey of repentance begins the moment we begin to reconsider our stance, perhaps where one may have declared, “over my dead body will I do that.”
Our “after thought” (repentance journey) or reconsideration yields the fruit of “true repentance” through the concession of 4R’s, viz:
~The first is *_responsibility_* : We must recognize that we have done wrong. The prodigal son recognized his sinfulness when he declared: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you” (Lk. 15:18). Take responsibility of your actions and inactions today, without giving God flimsy excuses as, “God, it’s my husband, sister in-law, wife etc., that caused it” or “I was on my own and he came with his troubles.”
~The second is *_regret_* : We must have true remorse for doing wrong and for the pain and problems we have caused.
The prodigal son regretted his actions the moment he declared: “I no longer deserve to be called your son” (Lk. 15:21). At this point we ask ourselves whether we have ever regretted our actions as a betrayal to God, who had trusted us with certainty.
~The third is *_resolve_* : We must be committed never to repeat the act regardless of the temptations or situation. The prodigal son makes the resolve to leave his old way of life for a new self: “I will leave this place and go back to my father” (Lk. 15:18)
~The fourth and probably the most difficult is *_restitution or repairing_* the damage we have done, or at least do what we can to apologize directly to the injured party. The prodigal son got home immediately to render apology to the father in the following words: “Then his son said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son” (Lk. 15:21).
This final stage takes place at the Confessional, where we are reconciled to God.
_(Let every mountain and hill be levelled)_
Isaiah in the first ready, while announcing Israel’s homecoming, admonished them to level the mountains of prejudice, hatred, rifts, divisions and disunity. Mountain is any high surface that blocks us from seeing through and identifying with the reality.
Like the proverbial mountainous pounded yam in Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”, that prevented an inlaw from noticing the presence of his inlaw in a great feast; nothing shades us from experiencing the power of God’s love, other than impernitence and unforgiveness on the side of our fellow human beings.
Advent is a season of preparations for the coming of the prince of peace (Is. 9:6), whereas, some Christians, most families, villages meetings are busy having lots of cliquism, meeting before meetings on how to cause one problem or the other or how to gang up and deal with a brother or sister, brother or sister in-law, mother or father in-law. Reconciliation with God is incomplete without allowing it to be horizontally perfected in our neighbour.
The adjective reconciled is from the verb reconcile, which is from the Latin root words re, meaning “again,” and concilare, meaning “to make friendly again or reunion.” It is a period of “making friend again or reuniting” with our enemies.
We cannot make an enemy a friend if we lack the humility to apologise and say, “I’m sorry” or “forgive me.” We learn from the humility of John the Baptist to humble ourselves before others and recant our stiff-necked decisions that have left our homes, communities and churches under perpetual enmity.
Rise up today in humility and “make friend again” with God through your neighbour.
_( rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain)._
St. Augustine, once said, “What do I profit if Jesus is born in thousands of cribs all over the world during this Christmas, but is not born in my heart and my life?”
We need to allow Jesus to be reborn in our lives. People around us should recognize Jesus’ rebirth in our lives by our sharing love, unconditional forgiveness, compassionate and merciful heart and spirit of humble and committed service.
Advent is a season of spiritual rebirth and regeneration. The baptism of repentance, which reconciles us with the father, opens up the doors of rebirth in the heart of the faithful. Jesus firmly encourages us that, “unless one is born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he will have no life in him” (Jn. 3:5).
The journey towards this rebirth is realized in the Sacraments of the Church. They are the outward signs of inward grace by which new life of rebirth is given to our souls. Ensure you do not remain the same as you await the coming of the Saviour. Remember, he came in History; he comes in Mystery and he will come again in Glory…. So be prepared!
Finally, a story was narrated about a worldly and unserious woman who got sick and called up her doctor for emergency treatment in her house. The doctor requested, “Can you have somebody fetch me because my car broke down today?” “My husband and my children are here,” the unserious patient replied. ‘All of them can drive but I can’t allow them to get you because, my car is brand-new. It might be spoilt, carnapped or be dented from an accident. Why don’t you just flag down a taxi so that you can come here?”
The doctor got a taxi and set out to his patient’s house. Immediately he checked her up. “You have a serious case of hypertension; your blood pressure is very high. Unless you do something drastic about your condition, you will die,” the doctor said. “Can you take this medicine regularly?” “I can’t,” was the patient’s reply. “I’m a busy person. I have many other things to do.”
Can you refrain from eating fatty foods and have a low-salt diet?” the doctor asked her again. “I can’t because they are my favorite. And how can I have appetite for food lacking in salt?”
“Can you at least do some exercises?” you really need to lessen your weight and improve your blood circulation,” the doctor said. “I can’t because I just want to relax, eat and sleep.”
“Then there is one thing I can do,” the doctor said. “What is that?” asked the patient. “I will contact funeral home (mortuary) and advise its agents that you will be dead any day from now. I might get a bigger commission this time! The doctor replied.
What a funny ending! But we should anticipate such “arrogant” response of the doctor to the unserious and lukewarm patient, whenever we vehemently resist every participation in all the mysteries the church offers us for repentance, rebirth and reconciliation to God the Father.
MAY GOD HELP US TO STRIVE AFTER TRUE REPENTANCE, RECONCILIATION AND REBIRTH IN OUR ADVENT PREPARATIONS FOR THE COMING OF THE MESSIAH. AMEN.
*_HAPPY SUNDAY AND GOD BLESS YOU!_*
FR GERALD MUOKA.