Sunday, December 1, 2019

Homily & Reflection

From A Catholic Moment;

Last week Sunday the Holy Mother the Church celebrated the Solemn Feast of Christ the King which concluded the liturgical year C. And today being the first Sunday of Advent, the Church begins another new liturgical year A. That is to say, the Advent season begins the whole of the church’s celebration of the redemptive mystery of Christ othewise known as the Pascal mystery.
The word Advent is translated from the latin “Adventus“ which itself was translated from the Greek “Parousia” meaning – showing forth, appearing or coming forth.
As a season of the Church, Advent has a double meaning. First it is a period when the Church re-lives the promise made by God to the people of the Old through the prophet Isaiah (Is 7:14; 9:7) Micah (Mic 5:2) and Malachi (Mal 3:1) about the coming of the Messiah in the flesh (the mystery of the incarnation) which was confirmed by the synoptic Gospels (Matthew Mark and Luke) who narrated the story of his birth. The second meaning of Advent is that it is a period when the Church expects the final and definitive revelation of Christ in glory; known as the mystery of the Parousia or second coming of Christ. In all these, the underlying message is “Preparation.”
However, Advent can be likened to a desert experience. In the desert, the atmosphere is invariably dry and the soil evaporates water more than it receives thereby impeding productivity. The life of man remains absolutely dry without the presence of God. He undergoes a spiritual longing for the Lord in order to survive the aride experience and to musturize his dying soul. Hence, it requires a deep seated spiritual journey and preparation. This Lord we are expecting will not come into our lives if we have a “half done” preparation. We have to leave the door of our heart open because our heart has only one handle located inside. Jesus cannot possibly open it. He will do the knocking while we do the opening. For the scripture says, “Behold I am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share a meal at his side” (Revelation 3:20).

FIRST READING: Isaiah 2:1-5
In this first Sunday of Advent the prophecy of Isaiah is a call to return to the Lord. The ministry of Isaiah took place around Eight Century BC when Israel was no longer in unity. The kingdom was split into Northern and Southern kingdoms after the death of King Solomon. Isaiah perceived this division as a deviation from the will of the Lord. And today he announces the message of Hope which characterizes the first sunday of advent. The Lord is concerned about the division of his people into many nations. For this, he will come very soon to establish his presence among them (symbolized in the image of mountain of Zion) so that he will bring the nations scattered over the earth into the one family of God. He will establish peace among them. For they shall cease from wars: “a time when swords shall be put into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks; a time when no nation shall raise sword against the other nor train again for war.” These days of darkness will be over. Divisions, hatred and crisis will be over, and the people will walk in the light which is the Lord himself.
The message of Isaiah underlines a fundamental fact that when the Lord is absent from our lives, then we are prone to evil (divisions, hatred, Crisis, wars and all other deeds of darkness). But the prophet did not stop at pointing out the problems that characterize our lives. He equally calls us to rise and make our way towards the Lord. This simply means that if you and I would truly approach the Lord who “enters his Temple”, then we will come out to truly love and appreciate the other as members of the one single family with a common Father. Often we think that some of us are from a different planet while the rest are from another planet. We forget that where we come from is just an accident which does not in any way define our essence as human beings. The Advent call of Isaiah is that the Lord will gather all nations to himself and not some nations. Let us prepare our hearts to meet the Lord by loving one another.

SECOND READING: Romans 13:11-14
Paul observed that some Christians in Rome were still living a double life; Christians in the day and pagans in the night. Today he reminds them of the obligation to abandon those sins that include “orgies and drunkenness, promiscuity and lust, rivalry and jealousy” that characterized their past lives as pagans before being converted to the Lord. He insists that their present state of life is contradictory to the works of darkness because Christ whom they have accepted is all Light. Hence they must put on the armour of light.
This message of Paul was an urgent call to the Romans and to all that there is no more time to waste. It is a message that is meant to wake those who are sleeping in sin. We need to say “No” to hide and seek type of Christianity. Whatever we do is known to the Lord. Let us not think that we are safe with what we do in the dark because at his appearing our deeds of darkness will be laid open.

GOSPEL: Matthew 24:37-44
The Gospel of Matthew today was addressed to the Christian converts from Judaism who were experiencing ill treatments from their Jewish counterparts. They were most often caricatured and ostracized from the place of worship. Matthew tries to reinforce their faith with this beautiful message of Jesus to his disciples. He assures them that the righteous will be vindicated on the day of the Lord. As one who was very much schooled in the knowledge of the Old Testament, Matthew employs the story of the deluge to demonstrate how God saved their ancestor Noah-the righteous and destroyed the evil doers (Gen. chaps. 6-9). He speaks of the uselessness of looking for signs; for there will be none. As a thief sneaks in during the night, so will the Lord’s coming in glory be. He therefore invites his audience to always be steadfast even in the minutest things they do. He warns them to be careful because the end might appear to be very peaceful when people will be eating and drinking, marrying and having fun. This will be very deceptive and will breed the tendency of relaxation.

Life Message
The Gospel says that one will be taken out of two people. Thus, it is obvious that the two cannot be taken at the same time. Who will be taken and who will be left? We cannot understand the seriousness of this message until we begin to ask the question, “what if I am the one to be left behind?” Let the thought of this lead each one of us to be vigilant; the type of vigilance that respects no time and no place. We must be vigilant at our work places, in the fields and even when asleep. The Lord comes to us in our daily activities.

Jesus says we do not know the time or the day when the Son of man will come. It simply means there will not be any formal arrangement. The news will neither be published on any social media nor will there be any pre-warning. He gives us the appointment to meet him everyday. But how many of us truly answer the call? We often postpone our meeting with him. We keep rescheduling it for the last minute because of self-indulgence into the latest beauty that the world presents to us. We act as if we have the timetable with us where the last minute is indicated. I once heard someone speak of a writeup he saw around a hospital that reads; “MANY WHO PLAN TO SETTLE WITH GOD AT THE 11th HOUR OFTEN DIE AT 10:30.”

Advent calls us to think of our relationship with God here and now. It calls for a diagnosis of our spiritual life.
How many of us do go to Mass and remain attentive and watchful for complete One hour without being distracted? We often don’t remember where the readings are taken from or even pay attention to Jesus who speaks to us in the readings or even concentrate during the homily without thinking about one thing or the other. If we cannot pay attention to Christ who comes to us in his Word and in the Eucharist at an hour we know, how then can we possibly keep watch at an hour we do not even know when it will be?
PRAYER: Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming, so that, gathered at his right hand, they may be worthy to possess the heavenly Kingdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

No comments:

Post a Comment