Homily from Sunday November 28th – 1st Sunday of Advent
May he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless with all his Saints.
In the first reading from Jeremiah, we heard the prophet offering a vision of hope which points us towards the birth of Jesus- Christmas. The second reading although short, offers not only a prayer but also some advice on how-to live-in love as a Christian. Just like the new Christians of Thessalonica, this advice is applicable to us today.
Today’s gospel reading can be disturbing to us when we hear about the day of the coming of the Son of Man at the end of time. But later Jesus says to His disciples, “stand up and raise your heads because your redemption is drawing near. Be on guard or alert at all times praying, that you may have the strength to escape all these things and stand before the son of God”. This could mean that the coming of the Son of Man at the end of time will be a cause for joy, courage, and hope. This passage provides excellent insights for us as disciples as we begin the Advent time of preparation.
In today’s gospel, Jesus tells us that the principal reason for our joy when the Lord comes is because our redemption is at hand. The term “redemption” means to be purchased, freed or released from the forces that oppose and oppress us to be faithful Christians. These include human weakness, sin, and the political and cultural forces that oppose the Gospel. For Christians the “End” which Jesus describes is really the “Beginning” of true freedom! That is why the Lord’s coming for Christian disciples will be a source of joyful fulfillment of their hope.
This teaching presumes that Christians are to be disciples of Lord in every aspect of their lives. It is easy, however, to become spiritually distracted and to find ourselves having put some other priority or value such as money, power, personal ambitions at the centre of our lives instead of Jesus/the Gospel. The end times message can be taken as a metaphor for personal experiences of disappointment, and fear. However, Advent comes with hope and expectation. It’s a reminder of the coming of Jesus Christ send by God our Father, who loved us and through grace comforts and strengthens us in our lives. God’s promise of salvation was fulfilled in Jesus, and God in His infinite wisdom, love, and humility, became a man for our sake. This is a great act of love and rightfully the new Liturgical year begins with Advent — the period of waiting for the birth of the savior — Christmas. Advent is a call to renew once more, in a conscious and personal fashion, our engagement with the Good News.
The Christian virtue of Piety can be described as the spiritual ability to give God His rightful place in our lives. God’s rightful place is the center of our life every day. It allows us to love what God loves, love others as God loves them, and order our lives in a loving relationship to God. Therefore, the time of Advent is an annual opportunity to identify some of the false values and mistaken priorities to which we have become attached, and to pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us experience the virtue of Piety by giving God His rightful place. This clarity of faith and spiritual centeredness will allow us to experience peace and confidence even in the midst of distressing situations because of our awareness that God is with us and cares for us.
So, like today’s psalm, let us sing, “Make me know your ways O Lord, teach me your Paths, for you are the God of my Salvation. To you O Lord, I lift my Soul”.