HOMILY ON THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR A
READY FOR THE DAY OF THE LORD:
(Is.2:2-5, Ps 121, Rom. 13:11-14 & Matt. 24:37-44)
Today is the First Sunday of the Advent Season which lasts for four weeks. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word Adventus which means “coming.” In the Christian tradition Advent has a twofold character, it is a time of preparation for the Solemnity of Christmas which commemorates the first coming of Our Saviour Jesus Christ in the human form, again Advent is a time when we, Christians look forward to Jesus’ Second coming in glory at the end of time amidst the angels. For these two reasons, the Advent season is a period of delightful preparation and waiting in joyful hope to meet the Lord.
In light of this, Jesus warns his disciples and all of us today in the Gospel reading of today to be alert and be prepared to meet the day of the Lord when he comes again to judge the living and the dead. Here Jesus compares his coming with what happened in the “days of Noah” (see Gen. chp 6).
The Book of Genesis tells why God chose to separate Noah and his family who were God fearing from those who had utterly rejected God by corrupting the earth with violence and evil: “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,…with corruption and violence spreading everywhere” (Genesis 6:5, 11-12).
And so when the judgment of God came, the people were caught completely unaware and unprepared by the disaster that swept them away, as they were busy with their worldly affairs, eating and drinking and marrying wives and husbands and enjoying life until the day Noah and his family went into the Ark and the flood came and swept the whole people away.
Just as God made a covenant of peace with Noah and his descendants and provided a place of refuge for them in the ark which spared them from the great Deluge (Gen 7), so God provides for us today, (the people of the new covenant who are faithful to his word), a place of refuge in Christ, His Son, whom God sent as our Saviour and Redeemer.
The pressing question now is, how are we to live our lives now as we prepare to commemorate the birth of Christ and also to wait for the promise of his second coming? From the gospel reading of today, Jesus gives us two striking images to illustrate the urgency of the need for us not to be caught off guard and unprepared before the Lord on the day of judgment (Matt 24:40-41).
First is the image of two men working together in the field -very likely close family members or close colleagues. One is suddenly taken away and the other is left. Second, is the image of two women who are working closely together and one is taken and the other left. The two colleagues at work therefore represent the faithful and the unfaithful Christians, one is accepted while the other is abandoned on the ground of unpreparedness.
On the other hand, the parable shows that no one would stand in for another person in the Christian faith journey, no matter the level of intimacy existing between them. As the Igbos would say, ‘Oso Eligwe abughi ogu nne na-agbara nwa ya.’ This literally means that, ‘No mother would run the heavenly race for her child.’ Each person rather runs his own race and as well gives the account of it at the end himself.
Jesus, therefore, urges us today to STAY AWAKE and remain vigilant because nobody will know when the Lord shall return. For many it shall be too late. If all should know how close the day of the Lord is, I suppose, they would be living in readiness. Regrettably, this is not the case. Look around! Can it be said that all are ready? Can it be said that all are in a state of grace? Can it be said that all have recently received the Sacrament of Confession? Can it be said that all are at peace with their family members, neighbours and colleagues at work? “You must therefore be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Mt. 24:44).
Readiness here as St Paul admonishes in the second reading, also involves letting aside the works of darkness and put on the amour of light; to live honourably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarrelling and jealousy. But to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and to make no provision for the gratification of the flesh, (Rom. 13:11-4). Give God the first place in your life and allow his principles to determine your decisions and life choices.
Reflection by Damian Ikemefuna Ozokwere cssp