YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 1ST SUNDAY OF ADVENT
HOMILY THEME: YOUR LIBERATION IS NEAR
BY: Fr. Gerald M. Musa
Preparation is important for any upcoming and important event. The season of advent provides us with the opportunity of preparing spiritually for Christmas. There are scripture readings that are specially selected by the Church for these four weeks of preparation. These readings prepare our hearts even beyond Christmas to the second coming of Jesus. During this season we reflect specially on our liberation from the shackles of sin and bondage. The prophet Jeremiah proclaimed the coming of a liberator who will spring forth for David. He refers to this liberator as the “Righteous branch” (Jeremiah 33:15). Jeremiah was clearly pointing to the coming of Jesus.
The prophet assured the people of Israel that God would fulfil his promise to liberate them from Babylon where they were held captive for 70 years. Beyond liberating them from the clutches of Babylon, he would also liberate them from slavery to sin. Jesus proved to be that liberator who declared to his listeners: “Your liberation is drawing near” (Luke 21:28). The season of advent is a time to ask, “How is my personal journey of liberation going?” We all want to be liberated from the many situations that hold us down. The French philosopher, Jean- Jacques Rousseau says, Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” We are certainly chained by many circumstances in life, socially, politically, economically and spiritually. Sometimes, we misunderstand the meaning of liberation or freedom.
An example of a wrong notion of liberty is the case of a man who said “No one can take away my freedom and even my Doctor cannot deny me the freedom to eat and drink whatever I want and no one can stop me from doing whatever I want to do. It was not long before this false liberty led him into the slavery of alcoholic addiction and into a reckless life that decimated his life span. The man forgot that liberty couldn’t be obtained by our physical power or by a wild life. In short, I dare to say there is no true freedom without God. True liberty is a product of God’s grace through Jesus Christ. The Gospel of John states, “If Jesus sets you free, you are free indeed” (8:36). The Apostle Paul adds, “In him we have redemption (liberty) through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7). In fact, it is the liberating grace of God that delivers us from the bondage of falsehood, fear and anxiety, apathy and anger.
Jesus gives us two very helpful instructions on how to prepare for our liberation. First he says, “But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare” (Luke 21:34-35). And his second instruction: “Watch at all times, praying at all times to have strength…” (Luke 21:36). The Apostle Paul adds one more instruction on how to wait for our liberation. He says, “Increase and abound in love to one another and to all men” (1 Thessalonians 3:12).
In this special season of grace we join St. Clement I to pray: “Grant us O Lord, we beseech thee, thy help and protection. Do thou deliver the afflicted, pity the lowly, raise the fallen, reveal thyself to the needy, heal the sick, and bring home thy wandering people. Feed thou the hungry, ransom the captive, support the weak, and comfort the faint-hearted. Let all the nations of the earth know that thou art God alone, that Jesus Christ is thy child, and we are thy people the sheep of thy pasture” (Office of Readings, Week 1, Monday). As we joyfully await his coming into our hearts and as we are in the midst of all kinds of troubles, trials and pains, let us gladly and repeatedly resound the word, Maranatha (Come, Lord Jesus).
I wish you a fruitful spiritual journey during this season of advent.
First Sunday of Advent, Year C/ Jeremiah 33:14-16; 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2; Luke 21:25-28. 34-36.