Homily for 1st Sunday of Advent, Year C

The Advent of Mercy and Liberation
Readings: 1st: Jr 13, 33-37; Ps 24; 2nd: I Th 3, 12. 4, 2; Gos Lk 21, 25-28, 34-36

This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working at the Sanctuario del Espiritu Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

The term Advent comes from two Latin words Ad-ventus or Ad-venire, which simply means “to arrive” or “to come” respectively.” Advent marks the beginning of the Church’s liturgical calendar. It is a four-week period leading up to Christmas. For us Christians and Catholics in particular, it means a time of expectation and preparation for the Lord’s coming. So, the prophecy of John the Baptist: “A voice of one calling in the desert, prepare a way for the Lord …” (Mk 1, 3), echoes loudly to us this season.
Advent is a time when we expect mercy and liberation because our Lord, the King of the universe whose solemnity we celebrated last Sunday comes with power to reign over his people. This Advent is special because it ushers in the year of mercy and liberation. Therefore, Christ comes to pardon and liberate us from fears, and all types of operations. As our first reading puts it, this is the time we expect the fulfillment of God’s promises to us – His children. The promise is about our deliverance, and the restoration of our lost integrity which has been stifled by fear of the unknown. It is equally a time of restoration of our hope and faith. Jesus comes also to liberate us from shame and its attendant sorrows. How do we begin this preparation?
Paul gives us a clue in our second reading when he says: “May he so confirm your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless in the sight of our God…when our Lord Jesus comes with all his saints.” Holiness of life in our world today appears to have lost its meaning or perhaps is one concept that sounds so abstract. In other words, it is believed by many, even Christians, to be unattainable. Yet, it is a necessary condition for seeing and meeting the Lord when he comes because, “without holiness no man can see the Lord” (Heb 12, 14).
It therefore means that in spite of the difficulties we face in attaining holiness, this season as Paul admonishes us, we have to “make more and more progress in the kind of life that we are meant to live.” This is a call to strive for perfection. If it were not possible, Christ and the apostles would not have told us to be perfect as our heavenly father is perfect. So this season, let us endeavor to shone greed, licentiousness, inordinate ambitions, anger, malice, backbiting, gossips, abortion, drunkenness, immodesty, and all sorts of vices. We must prepare and equip ourselves with good virtues like a bride waiting for her groom.
Finally, one other important thing we must do as today’s gospel tells us is, to keep ourselves positively busy, awake and watchful. Therefore, this is a call for us to intensify and strengthen our prayer life. This is because prayer purifies the soul; it casts away all fears, and it prepares and strengthens us. Prayer provides us the spiritual energy, courage and confidence to stand firm while waiting for our Lord’s coming. Intensive prayer this season rather than being carried away by mundane preparations is what the Lord wants from us.
May our Lord find us awake and ready when he comes to liberate us from the fear and operation that holds us captive. So let us join the psalmist to say: “To you, O Lord I lift up my soul, make me know your ways, and teach me your paths” (Ps. 34, 4).
Peace be with you!

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