Theme: ADVENT IS A TIME WHEN WE PREPARE FOR CHRISTMAS AND FOR THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS CHRIST
- Isaiah 2:1-5
- Psalm 121:1-2. 4-5. 6-9. R. v. 1
- Romans 13:11-14
- Matthew 24:37-44
Today is the first day of the liturgical year and today is the first Sunday of Advent! The word Advent comes from the Latin word “Adventus” meaning “coming”!
Advent is a time when we prepare ourselves to celebrate the First Coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas, and Advent is also a time when we prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ at the end of time! As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, we also prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! In preparing for Christmas and for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, we pray, we do good works, we love, we avoid sin, we practice justice, we make peace, we help the poor, etc.!
The gospel tells us about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! The gospel tells us to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! The gospel tells us to stay awake and to be ready for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!
The gospel has 3 parables! The first parable tells us to stay awake and to be ready, and not to be like the people in Noah’s time, eating and drinking and marrying, until the Floods came and swept them away!
The second parable tells us of two men working in the fields, one is taken away and one is left! It also tells us of two women working and one is taken way and one left! The one who is prepared is taken away into heaven and the one who is not prepared is left!
The third parable tells us of the burglar who comes at a time you do not know and you do not expect!
All the three parables in today’s gospel tell us to stay awake and to be ready for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! In short the gospel today tells us to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!
The second reading from the letter to the Romans also tells us to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! It tells us to love one another (Rm 13:8-10)! It also tells us not to get drunk, not to get involved in orgies, that is, drunken or immoral merrymaking, not to be promiscuous, that is, indiscriminate in sexual relations, not to be licentious, that is, not to be lax in morals, not to quarrel, not to be jealous of each other, etc., but to put on Jesus Christ!
The first reading from Isaiah tells us that when Jesus Christ comes he will bring us peace! The theme of the first reading is peace! The first reading tells us that the weapons of war will be turned into tools of agriculture, that is, instruments of peace! But before it tells us about peace the first reading also tells us about justice. The first reading tells us that God will judge the nations with justice!
Referring to the situation in Palestine, Pope John Paul II tells us that there can be no peace without justice! Today and yesterday, many wars are fought because of injustices, because of oppression, and exploitation, etc.! But Pope John Paul II also tells us that there can be no justice without forgiveness! Without forgiveness, “a tooth for a tooth”, very quickly spirals and escalates into “a life for tooth”!
The peace that Jesus Christ gives us is a peace that the world cannot give! It is a peace grounded on forgiveness! Jesus Christ made peace with us by forgiving our sins on the cross, so that we can make peace with God our Father, with each other, with our own selves, and with the environment!
The responsorial psalm helps us to meditate on the theme of peace of the first reading! In the third and forth stanzas of the responsorial psalm the word “peace” is mentioned 5 times: “For the peace of Jerusalem pray: ‘Peace be to your homes! May peace reign in your walls, in your palaces, peace!’ For love of my brethren and friends I say: ‘Peace upon you!’”!
Again, like the first reading, even before it tells about peace, the psalm tells us that the Lord will judge with justice! Again, there can be no peace without justice! But more than that, the responsorial psalm also tells us that the Lord will bring us prosperity!
In the New Jerusalem Bible, the word “peace” is alternated with the word “prosperity”: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, prosperity for your homes! Peace within your walls, prosperity in your palaces! For love of my brothers and my friends I will say, ‘Peace upon you!’”!
There can be no prosperity without peace, and there can be no peace without prosperity! The two go together! Today too, many wars are fought because of poverty!
In sum, the psalm tells us that the Lord will bring us peace, peace with justice and peace with prosperity!
During this time of Advent, the Church asks us to make peace with God, with one another, with oneself, and with the environment! That is why in this time of Advent there will be Penitential Services with Individual Confessions in every parish of our Diocese!
The Church also asks us to be “Santa Claus” (St. Nicholas) to give gifts to the poor, the sick, the aged, the orphaned, the children, etc.!
The Church also asks us to go “caroling” to proclaim the Good News to others!
A Happy Advent to all of you!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.