Homily for first Sunday of advent C

Today we begin the season of advent, the season of special preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas. The word advent is from the Latin word adventus, meaning coming. The season of advent is of expectation, anticipation and waiting in hope.

Our liturgy of the word today is interesting, very appropriate for the beginning of this beautiful season.

Jeremiah in our first reading is futuristic, he tells of what God plan to do, how he plans to fulfil the promise he made to the house of Israel by making a branch grow for David. This prophecy was very reassuring to the house of Israel, they needed that reassurance because they were broken at the time. They lived in a world where there seemed to be no hope, a world where they watched their future been enslaved and Jerusalem destroyed. It was at this time the prophet Jeremiah reminded the people that God’s promise to raise a saviour from the house of David will be fulfilled. The promise is about Christmas, about the coming of the messiah, and the reason for this season; waiting in hope.

Brethren, we are all part of this waiting. And as we wait, many Christians may focus their attention on the magi, the crib and the birth of Christ. Yes; that is what the season is all about, to prepare to commemorate the birth of Christ at Christmas. But this waiting may be dangerous, some may wait to the point of forgetting what they waiting for. In as much as the Church calls us to special spiritual preparation this season to commemorate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ at Christmas, we must keep in mind that our waiting is not for baby Jesus. We prepare at this season to commemorate the mystery of the incarnation in anticipation for his second coming. This period of waiting may be disappointing for those who wants to see Jesus been born again in a magi and not in their hearts. Some others may be tired of waiting, but waiting is a period of learning. The longer we wait, the more we hear about him for whom we are waiting.

While Jeremiah tells us about how God is going to fulfil his promise, Paul in our second reading and the evangelist Luke in our gospel passage reminds us that the promise is fulfilled already. The season of advent therefore is not a time to prepare for the fulfilment of God’s promise, but to commemorate the fulfilment of the promise in the incarnation of Christ.

The faithfulness of God therefore challenges us to live a life worthy of our calling as Christians, to let our hearts be confirmed in holiness as St. Paul prays; that we may be blameless in the sight of God and Father when our Lord Jesus Christ comes with all his saints.

As we begin the season of advent in preparation to celebrate Christmas, we are encouraged to be focus, not to let the social celebration of this great mystery lead us away from the truth. He says; Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will be sprung on you suddenly, like a trap. For it will come down on every living man on the face of the earth. Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to stand with confidence before the Son of man.

The season of advent is another opportunity the Church offers us to specially re-examine our lives and make amends. We are called to fast and pray in preparation to celebrate Christmas in purity of heart and in joy of the Lord. It is a call to let the faithfulness of God change our unfaithfulness, to let the commemoration of the mystery of the incarnation open the eyes of our faith to see how much God loves us. We cannot sleep-walk into God’s presence, but learn to stay awake in the spirit. Watch and pray, for no one knows the day.

May the grace of this season help us to celebrate Christmas in purity of heart and lead us into the joyful presence of Christ the Lord when he comes with all his saints. Amen.

Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA

Joel Okojie is an ordained Catholic Priest in the Order of St. Augustine. He has been a Priest for over a decade. He served as pastor in two different parishes, he was one time Novice Master and a member of the Provincial Council of the province of St. Augustine of Nigeria, and he is currently on a mission in response to the needs of the Church in Canada.

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