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Homilies/Reflections

THE NEW YEAR OF FAITH. A reflection for the first Sunday of Advent 2020
By Fr. Modestus Mgbaramuko
Mon, 30 Nov 2020

Readings: Is 63:16-17; 64:1,3-8; 1Cor 1:3-9; Mk 13:33-37.

        “Advent” we know opens our liturgical new year. Its name (Adventus) comes from the Latin verb meaning “to come.” Everything we should be thinking of and doing during the next four weeks should place Jesus at the center. It is the hope, longing, expectation, renewal, and joy of Jesus’s coming that our advent celebrates.

   Two primary dimensions entrench this sacred season of faith. First, advent makes us ready to welcome Christmas or Christ’s birth. This memory reminds us of the first coming of Jesus. We remember it by reliving its joy and sharing that joy with others. Second, advent directs us to live out our Christian lives only in ways that give witness. And, it is a witness of a living faith that we expect Jesus Christ to return soon enough at the Parousia, his second coming.

     The advent language has changed our readings. We will not hear so much from the law. Instead, the prophets’ majestic poetry will be addressing us mainly in the first readings of this season. No one does this better than Isaiah. He leads other prophets of God to use the creative language to re-create our longing, our hopes, and our anticipations for God in our lives. Today, Isaiah’s voice, so intense for the work of the renewal, addresses Israel and, by extension, addresses all of us.

    The prophet put words on the lips of a dis-spirited people. Beyond the physical pains of the returned exiles, Isaiah regenerates the spirit of God’s people. They must reclaim the fatherhood of God over their broken lives. Hence, “Oh, that you would break the heavens and come down. You are the potter, and we are the clay. Do not let us wander away again from you (Is 63:19; 64:7). Here is our reminder to see our proper place in God’s plan. To strive to live in the manner of mutual love and respect for ourselves and one another.  In this way, we genuinely wait for God and expect God’s love and mercy.

     Alongside Isaiah’s words of renewal, we hear Paul’s words of encouragement. We are enriched because of God’s love for us and God’s choice for us in Christ. Above all, as we read in today’s Gospel, Christ addresses us. In reply to those who ask about his glorious return and what the last day of earthly life would be, Jesus also replies to us. The “readiness parable” urges us to “stay awake” in doing God’s will. Openness to the will of God in whatever you do is the way of staying awake for the Christian. That no one should be in doubt about Christ’s last advent, but that we do not know the “when” of his return – evening, midnight, cockcrow, or morning, is excellent a revelation.

      Now we know our places as God’s doorkeepers over our precious lives, over our families, and over the environment that God has privileged us. Today, we also know the “how” of Christ’s return – unexpectedly! Again, we have heard that God in Christ does have expectations from us: not to find us unprepared, indifferent, or asleep at Christ’s final advent. It means to live each day as if it were the last day of our earthly lives.

     We, too, could look back at the old year of 2020. Like those Israelites in Isaiah who recently returned from a gruesome exile, we can check what life has been through the present pandemic. We can ponder the absence of friends, family members, or relatives already impacted in several different ways at this time. We can then answer for ourselves the question, “Am I staying awake for the unexpected?”

 

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