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Homilies/Reflections

ADVENT: NEW BEGINING
By Fr. Modestus Mgbaramuko
Sun, 01 Dec 2019

Readings: Is 2: 1-5; Rm 13:11-14; Mt 24:37-44

Last Sunday, we shared thoughts on the end of the liturgical year. We were then reflecting on Christ, the eternal king, king of the universe, and the king over our lives. The glory of Christ brings our litugical year to an end. But that end now marks our new beginning with Advent. This is a period to turn over a new page, not just for the fun of it, but seriously. Who would not like to begin afresh with Christ and greet Christ afresh as now, Christ’s Advent greets us?

The prophet, Isaiah, echoes this renewal in the first reading. The greatness of this prophet matched the critical and troubled times of his ministry. In Judah, the enemies of the nation were laying the siege on the nation’s capital. The death of the king (Uzziah, 742 B.C) already created a big vacuum in Judah. The Times were tough, and life itself was fearful as no one could see any progress with the situation of war, of counter-attack, war, retaliation, and vengeance. Who will provide direction and call God’s people back to a new beginning with God?

This was how Isaiah came into the picture. God, then, meant to do a new thing; and to lead God’s people to know that contrary to the rebellious will of humans, true peace is not always the fruit of war. Isaiah was then challenged to announce to everyone to return to God, and to walk again in the guiding light of God. It is a great thing to serve the Lord. It is a great thing to walk in the light of God. “Oh house of Jacob – Oh house of Israel, come,” Isaiah proclaims: “Let us walk in the light of God” (Is 2:3). How so wonderfully, the Church makes this same call to us all now, on the very first day of Advent: Let us walk in the light of God.

In our return to the guiding light of God, lies the link of our first reading with the second reading. For, here, St Paul makes the clarion call to you, to me and all of us, that “the night is over now (Rm 13: 12).” In this context, Paul names decency. Decency in everything. It is a decent mind that we need for our decent bodies. It is a decent person,  for example, who knows when to stop and go home. It is also a decent Christian who realizes how important it is to make peace and to end rancour. Like, someone could ask you: When was the last time that you stood up and said: ‘no more jealousy, enough of the infighting, and no more wrangling (Rm 13:14)? Ponder the now of Paul in this context, and consider doing the peace this Advent.

With the Christmas season soon to come upon us, here comes Advent for us to prepare. In this last month of the civic year, we all should know what a critical time it is now. More so, Paul’s vision linked with Isaiah’s prophetic words gain us insight about certain things in our lives, which can resemble the color and thickness of darkness,  and then crowd up our faith and Christian life with mud, and rust, and ashes. We all need Advent renewal.

In Advent, what we look forward to, is receiving Jesus Christ, who comes afresh to us. As human, Christ first came to us as the babe of Bethlehem. As a symbol of God’s presence, Christ is with us and recreates us spiritually in his word and sacraments. Yet, as Lord and God, we proclaim that “Christ will come again,” to us in the parousia. Today’s Gospel highlights Christ’s coming and dwells on our need to “stay awake.” The caution is to stand ready, knowing our pilgrim status in the world. Remembering the story of Noah also reveals our need to use our time well, since Christ’s coming might also arrive suddenly as the time of our death.

That is why the greatest way to receive Christ at this Advent and always is to renew our lives. To remove the obstacles to our faith in God, and to work with one another with longing hopes for Christ. It is certainly not enough that we pursue the posh life. It is even all the more important and necessary that we remember to work for the will of God in the world.

 

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