YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 1ST SUNDAY OF ADVENT
HOMILY THEME: PREPARING FOR HIS COMING
BY: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT YEAR C
The Birth of Christ over 2000 years ago was a decisive moment in the History of Salvation. What was never known or heard before happened, God assumed the nature of man that we may receive the grace to share in His divinity. This moment of grace in the history of our relationship with God unblocked and opened widest the path that leads us back to our ultimate origin and made available to us, superabundantly, graces that would sustain us on this path until that final hour when He will come to repay each person according to his or her deeds. May the merits of the First Coming of Christ keep us standing and ready for His Second Coming in glory; Amen.
Today the Church begins a new Liturgical Year in which we shall re-live the Mysteries of Christ as we continue on our earthly pilgrimage towards God our Creator and our ultimate end. Very unique to this Liturgical Year, namely Year C, is the fact that in most of the Sundays, the Gospel Reading will be taken from the Gospel according to Luke, apart from the Easter Season. Hence, the Year C in the Liturgical Cycle is often designated as the Year of Luke. Like in each of the three years in the Liturgical Cycle, this Liturgical Year begins with the Season of Advent. Advent is a term derived from the Latin ‘Adventus’ which means coming. This season has it main focus as the preparation for the two comings of Christ; firstly His coming at the end of time “in glory to judge the living and the dead” (From the First Sunday of Advent to the 16th of December) and secondly the first coming of Christ over two thousand years ago in the town of Bethlehem in Judaea which will be commemorated at Christmas, “for us men and for us our Salvation He came down from heaven and by the Holy Spirit, was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man.” The Advent Season is a season of expectation, preparation, penance and most importantly of hope which is seen in the colour purple/violet worn throughout this Season. Charged by this mood, the Entrance Anthiphon and the Responsorial Psalm invite us to sing with hope “to You, I lift up my soul, O my God.”
In the readings are resonant these themes with which the Advent Season is known. The First Reading (Jer 33:14-16) recaptures the prophetic stage in which it was annunced the First Coming of Christ “See, the days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks, in those days and at that time, I will make a virtuous Branch grow for David, who shall practise honesty and integrity in the land.” This passage enriches us with the background and information while many who saw deeper than what the ordinary eyes would see referred to Jesus as “the Son of David.” In Jesus of Nazereth is realised in full the Davidic promises of the Messiah of the stock of David. The First Coming of the Christ is very decisive as it fully informs and places before us everything we need to prepare ourselves for the Parousia, His Second Coming at the End of time. It is this Second Coming that the Master Himself draws our attention to in the Gospel Reading (Luke 21:25-28, 34-36). This is sure to happen and imminent as the case may be, but when it will happen is not known to any creature, for “that day will be sprung on you suddenly, like a trap. For it will come down on every living person on the face of the earth. Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.” To meet this day of days in a happy surprise involves a constant and steady form of preparation. A preparation that involves deepening of and stability in holiness of life.
To prepare for the Second Coming of Christ and for a fruitful commemoration of His first coming at Christmas involves, in the words of the Second Reading (1 Thess 3:12-4:2), that we allow ourselves and our hearts to be “confirmed in holiness that we may be blameless in the sight of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus Christ comes with all his saints.” Being confirmed in holiness and being blameless is not something abstract and unattainable but the “holiness to which the Lord calls us grows through small gestures” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 16). Gestures of love and attention and understanding and patience and tolerance and above all of humility. The One who came and Who is to come, the reason for this season, came in the simplest and humblest of ways. The simplicity of His appearance in our midst informs us of how simple God wants us to be and it is in this simplicity that we can best prepare to meet Him at the end of time. Sometimes we complicate ourselves that we bring complications not just to ourselves but also to the lives of those around us, making life lose its very spice of simplicity. Truly, “God made us plain and simple, but we have made ourselves very complicated” (Ecclesiastes 7:29). Part of the ways of preparing for these celebrations could be to choose to live simply in imitation of Christ the Emmanuel who came to us in the simplest of ways and Who has remained with us in simple ways, in the sacraments and in our brothers and sisters and Who wants us to live in simplicity of life.
May God bless our hope and preparations this Advent Season and grant us an all-round positively transformatory Liturgical Year; Amen.
Happy Sunday; Fr Cyril CCE