Isaiah 63:16b-17; 64:1, 3b-8; Psalm 80; 1Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:33-37
There are two homily notes here; kindly scroll down the page. Remain blessed in this New Liturgical Year.
Fr. Daniel Evbotokhai: Be vigilant
Fr. Paul Oredipe: Wait in Patient Hope for God
Fr. Daniel Evbotokhai:
Today is the first Sunday of the New Liturgical Year (Year B). Happy New Liturgical Year to you all. May this New Liturgical Year enrich our faith with every grace and blessing! Amen. Today the Church enters into the season of advent. The word advent is from the Latin word “Adventus” which means “coming”. Firstly, a moment we recall the First Coming of Jesus which we celebrate at Christmas and secondly, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ at the end of time. The readings today draw our minds to both comings; the privileges of the first coming and the expectations as we await the second coming.
In the first coming of Christ, St Paul speaks of the grace of God that has been given to us and how we have been enriched in speech and knowledge of every kind (1Cor. 1:4-5) and in the seconding coming Paul calls us to wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ (1Cor.1:7). In the first coming Luke 2:12 Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes in the manger; in the second coming Psalm 104:2 He will be clothed with light as with a garment. In the first coming 1Pet.2:24 He bore our sins in his body on the cross; in the second coming Rev.5:11-14 he will come in glory accompanied by the host of angels. In the first, Luke 19:38 they received Him saying ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’ in the second we shall echo same in adoration. In the first He was judged in the second he will come to judge the world. In the creed we profess both comings: he was born of the virgin Mary and was made flesh and He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. Thus it is not enough to be content with his first coming; we must wait in hope for his second coming.
In between the two comings of the Lord, there are certain things we must do if we don’t want to miss him at his seconding coming. First of all we must be vigilant. The gospel of today Mark 13:33 tells us to be vigilant for we do not know the time the Lord will come. Matt.24:43 will say if the house owner had known at what time the thieve was to come he would have been vigilant and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. To be vigilant is to be watchful, to be awake, to be alert, and to be ready. Today, people are so vigilant about their health, wealth, and ambition and they preserve it, also we have around us the Vigilante group to assist us in security. We do these for earthly preservation but we lack eternal vigilance. In our race to eternity, we must be vigilant.
Secondly, while we are vigilant we must also pray. Thus, Matt.26:41 call us to “stay awake and pray. The two must go together. If we stay awake and don’t pray we rely on human strength. If we pray without staying awake we rely on Divine help while neglecting our duties. Thus, we are told to watch and pray. Every time watching is used in the Bible it is associated with praying. We too must adopt this pattern. Whenever we pray let us watch and whenever we watch let us pray. An army may be with his riffle but if he is not vigilant he may be defeated. If Christians carry the Bible and are not vigilant their houses will be broken into. Prayer is the fuel in your car while watching is the oil in your engine. If one is lacking there will be no movement. You can’t say you have prayed for security therefore you can now go to bed with your doors open. When you pray against evil you must also avoid the works of darkness. Many persons have fallen because they were always watching without praying. Many have fallen because they were always praying without watching. A mature Christian is defined by his fervent balance of praying and watching.
Thirdly, advent is a season of repentance; the first reading says God is “father” and “redeemer”. Nobody is so enslaved by sin that he cannot be freed and redeemed. He “redeemed” the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt. He freed them from captivity in Babylon. In their sinfulness God remolded them like clay in a potter’s hand. Thus, this season of Advent is a moment to pray like the Psalmist today; “God of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.”
Fourthly, we must be active while waiting. We can’t say we are waiting for the second coming of Christ and so we sit down and do nothing. Why should I labour when I know everything will be destroyed, why should I labour when I know that life on earth is a journey. In Luke 19:13 the master said to the servant “do business with these until I come.” We are all to go about our business until he comes, we are to invest our time and energy in building the kingdom through our words and actions. We must use our talents and resources to build up the body of Christ until he comes. At the end of our life there will be an examination. This examination will neither be written nor oral. It will be based on our actions. The Lord will evaluate our actions, omission, thoughts and words. We pray that His face may shine on us this season and save us, amen!
Fr. Paul Oredipe:
Wait in Patient Hope for God
Today we begin a new year of the Church, what we call Liturgical Year. As usual, we begin this year with the season of ADVENT – a period of preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and also at the end of our lives.
Advent is a pilgrimage and the Bible is the travelog outlining God’s faithfulness to His journeying people. We are pilgrims, not tourists on earth. We have a goal, a mission, a vision and a destination.
The season of Advent we are beginning today even brings this theme of conversion to a greater dimension and urgent need. “In Advent, the Church reminds us firstly of the Father’s initiative, “when the fullness of time had come, he sent his son, born of a woman, born subject to the law, to free those who were under the law, so that they would become adopted sons” (Gal. 4: 4-5). We are then invited to prepare ourselves for the second and definitive coming of Christ, when, at the end of time, the Lord Jesus, “hands over the kingdom to God the Father” (1 Cor. 15:24).
The time of the second coming of Christ which constantly appears in the liturgical texts of Advent, points out the Father as the origin and end of salvation. It is the Father who raises in us the will to associate ourselves with the good works of the Christ who comes so that we are able to obtain the kingdom of heaven.
So our Advent obligation and business is no other thing than conversion. We long for the coming of Christ and we expect it. The best thing we can do is to prepare for it. Christ is coming not for the healthy but for the sick, not for the saint but for the sinner, not for the strong but for the weak. How then are we preparing to receive Him in our hearts and homes?
Advent is about preparation and hope for the coming of a great guest. We must therefore feel the urgency of conversion which is a joyful way of living. The Gospel of today puts this in terms of staying awake, being ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour we do not expect or know.
In the first reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah we heard that without the Lord we wander aimlessly through this life. Without the Lord, we manage to get ourselves into all sorts of trouble. But God has molded us and fashioned us. We are the clay. He is the potter. If we just allow Him to guide our lives, we will be ready. The Response sums it clearly: “O God, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.”
St. Paul adds in today’s second reading that Christ has filled us with every good gift. Why does God do this for us? He wants us to be a sign that He is coming. So we wait. We prepare. We watch.
The season of Advent proposes the element of waiting in human affairs. The farmer plants his crops and waits in hope for it to germinate, mature and bear fruit. He waits for the fruit to ripen before the harvest. The researcher has the patience to gather data, analyze, experiment, test before announcing and defending the result of his or her research. The element of waiting, hope, and expectation and therefore patience belongs to farmwork as it does to research work.
The Advent liturgy announces the virtue of hope as the fuel which sustains us. Without it we die inwardly, our creative potentials become paralyzed and ungenerated. With it, the future becomes open. The arena of possibilities becomes amenable to our creative action.
For Advent, the time of watching, is an opportunity for us to grow closer to Christ.
Getting on for 2020 years now, since the first Christmas Day came and went, we must still be looking forward. Advent is not only preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus, an event which happened long ago (2020 years ago) but also a time for looking to the future, for this means looking ahead to what is often called ‘the coming of the Kingdom of God’. We are getting ready to celebrate the first coming of Jesus and also to celebrate the second coming as well.
In Advent, we think not only of the baby born in a manger but also of the King who is to come and judge the world. And so, in looking forward to Christ’s coming during Advent, we also invite Him to become the ruler of our lives, and we wait eagerly for the day when, we believe, everyone will accept His lordship over the entire creation.
We are at a precious moment in time and history (the end and beginning of a century) – a moment of grace – a kairos. We have to prepare for the grace that God will pour out this Christmas; for the grace to come and finally, for the overwhelming grace that will be ours when Jesus comes again. The Church reminds us of this preparation in a four-week period so that we can get ourselves ready to celebrate the Christmas once more.
God is coming and we cannot remain the same or indifferent. We have to make what adjustments required to correct the course of our lives and turn ourselves to God who comes to us. Man’s whole existence is a constant preparing to see God, who draws ever closer. We have an appointment. We must prepare or we perish.
The idea of being prepared is rooted in society. Students prepare for exams. Pregnant mothers prepare for labour. Political parties prepare for elections and a good scout, of course, is always prepared. But, how are we to prepare? The best thing to do is to take Jesus’ advice – which is to watch and pray. If we grasp the significance of the first coming, we shall groan for the second.
We shall go to confession so as to receive the Child Jesus worthily, in the weeks between now and Christmas, with an ever greater love and deeper contrition. As we do this, we learn to discover and rediscover the Sacrament of Reconciliation for our personal and communal purification and so experience the merciful love of the Father who cares for all his children.
To maintain this state of alertness, we need to struggle, for we all have a tendency to live with our eyes fixed on the things of the earth. Especially during this time of Advent, let us not forget that our hearts are darkened by gluttony and drunkenness and the cares of this life, and so lose sight of the supernatural dimension which every action of ours should have as its milieu.
Saint Paul compares this guard over ourselves to that of the well-armed soldier who does not allow himself to be taken by surprise (cf. 1 Thess. 5: 4-11). There is always a big temptation to procrastinate believing that there is still time.
There is a story about three apprentice devils who were coming to earth to finish their apprenticeship. They were talking to their master and teacher, Satan, about their plans to tempt and to ruin persons so that they would go to hell.
The first apprentice devil said, “I will tell the people there is no God … If they believe that, they will go to hell.” Satan said, “That will not delude many because they know there is a God.”
The second apprentice devil said, “I will tell the people that there is no hell for serious sins committed … If they believe that, they will surely go to hell …” Satan answered by saying, “You will deceive no one that way … all people know that there is a hell for serious sins committed.”
The third apprentice devil said, “I will tell the people they need not hurry … there is plenty of time to prepare …” Satan said, “You have spoken wisely and correctly … go and tell the people that they have plenty of time to prepare and you will ruin them by thousands.”
Thousands will be lost because they thought they had plenty of time to prepare before the Master comes … before the Bridegroom would come. No one knows how much time he or she has left for “time is a deposit each one has in the bank of God and we do not know the balance” (Ralph W. Sockman).
Brothers and sisters, as Scripture tells us: “The Lord is not being slow in carrying out his promises, as anybody else might be called slow; but he is being patient with you all, wanting nobody to be lost and everybody to be brought to change his ways.” (2 Peter 3:9)
As we wait and long for the coming of Christ, let us do all we can now that we can and not tomorrow that we do not know or have yet. Today or never.
DO ALL YOU CAN
Do all the good you can
By all the means you can
In all the ways you can
In all the places you can
At all the times you can
To all the people you can
As long as ever you can.
Today or never.
Abba, Father, you are the potter, we are the clay, the work of your hand; mould us, mould us and fashion us into the image of Jesus your Son.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.