YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 1ST SUNDAY OF ADVENT
HOMILY THEME: YOUR SALVATION IS NEAR
BY: Fr. Clem. C. Aladi.
GOSPEL: Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
My dearest children of God we are so privileged to be here on this first Sunday of Advent ushering us into a new year of the Church’s life. I welcome you with joy as we embark on this few weeks of spiritual rejuvenation in preparation for the coming of our saviour at Christmas. Advent is a time of waiting for Christ, allowing Jesus to be reborn in our lives. It is also a time for purifying our hearts by repentance and for renewing our lives by reflecting on and experiencing the several comings (advents) of Christ into our lives. This is a time of spiritual preparation to experience anew the blessings of Christmas.
~In the first reading, the prophet Jeremiah waits and hopes for an ideal descendant of King David who will bring security, peace and justice to God’s people. Christians believe that Jeremiah’s waiting and hoping were fulfilled in Jesus. Security, peace and justice are the highlights of this first reading. These are the packages that Christ is coming to restore in our broken world of insecurity, war and injustice. The restoration of the trio in the world begins from our hearts. Christ is coming to renew our hearts if we are disposed to hearken to His voice. This is time to make peace, a time of reconciliation and a time to let justice triumph.
~In the second reading, Paul gives instructions about how Christians should conduct themselves as they wait for “the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His holy ones.” We are advised to “strengthen our hearts in holiness” (3:13) and “abound in love for one another” (3:12).
~In today’s Gospel, Jesus prophesies the signs and portents that will accompany His Second Coming and encourages us to be expectant, optimistic, vigilant and well-prepared: “ _When these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand”_ (Luke 21:28).
The gospel of today emphasizes our need to be very vigilant as we prepare for Christmas. The many concerns of the human heart put a man in a situation of unrest in the pursuit of worldly ambitions. He feels unsatisfied and disappointed in himself and his God when these pursuits yield undesired outcomes. We are in a world where people measure their progress in terms of material achievements. Are you unsatisfied and worried that 2018 has not been a favourable year for you? Is it your worst year ever? Come to think of it, no year ever comes and goes wasted, no matter the tragedies or vicissitudes of life that punctuated the existential realities surrounding us each year. Our marriage may break up; we may lose our job, discover that we have cancer or some terminal illness or become estranged from our children. In all such situations, when we feel overwhelmed by disaster and feel that our lives have no meaning, Jesus says: “Stand up, raise your heads, because your salvation is near”.
When we reflect inwardly we can discover in all these tragedies God’s unbounded favours and His grace that has sustained us through all the struggles. The gift of life is remarkedly a thing to give thanks for if we think we have nothing to give thanks for. This is why this Advent is not a time to calculate how much we have achieved, but a time of taking stock of what we were not able to achieve in spite of the privileges, opportunities and graces at our disposal. This is a time to plan how we can better our lives if we are given another opportunity in the coming year. ” *A man may lose the good things of this life against his will; but if he loses the eternal blessings, he does so with his own consent.”* – St. Augustine
We must raise our heads in hope and anticipation, knowing that the Lord is coming again. This becomes a special moment of interior reflection and renewal, disposing ourselves to experience newer blessings and favours that will be our opening stock for the coming year.
The Gospel encourages us to be vigilant and prayerful. The year is coming to an end, do not let material preoccupations and worldly anxieties lead you into sin. Whatever you could not achieve this year, can still be achieved the next year just allow Providence to lead the way. Surrender your life to God and allow Him to decide your fate. Be vigilant for your enemy the devil is searching for souls to lure into sin, resist him, be strong in the faith.
To be vigilantly prayerful is to be in living, conscious contact with God. It is to have our heart and mind focused on the one thing necessary (cf Lk 10:42), and thus to have our life ordered. With this order properly established, our excesses fall away, and the many associated anxieties depart. Once they are gone, we no longer need to medicate and soothe our anxious mind. This lightens our heart; its heaviness goes away.
Once we have set our sights on God through vigilant prayer, everything else in our life becomes ordered. And then when Christ comes, He will not disrupt our world, but confirm what we are already used to Jesus Christ as the centre and meaning of our life.
Through prayerful vigilance, we can stand erect and raise our head because our redemption is at hand. Why? Because we are used to seeing Him and experiencing His authority. He thus comes not to destroy and usurp our disordered life, but to confirm and fulfil what has always been true for us: that Jesus is the centre of our life.
May we continue to live in righteousness anticipating the second coming of Christ at Christmas. *”It is not by change of place that we can come nearer to Him who is in every place, but by the cultivation of pure desires and virtuous habits.”* -St. Augustine. Jesus comes to us daily, if we welcome Him today with pure hearts as He comes to us in the sacraments, in our daily routines of life and in the community and people around us then we should be hopeful that His coming will never take us unawares and that our salvation is surely near.
May you and your family remain blessed and protected as we prepare for Christmas. I keep you all always in my prayers.
Fr. Clem. C. Aladi.