1st Sunday of Advent, Year C (2021): 1 Thes 3:12-4:2; Lk 21:25-28, 34-36
Sunday, November 28, 2021
Homily Notes for the 1st Sunday of Advent, Year C (2021): 1 Thes 3:12-4:2; Lk 21:25-28, 34-36
· The 1st Sunday of Advent marks the start of a new liturgical year, yet paradoxically this time of beginning starts with scriptural readings that speak of the end of time!
· Such readings can instill fear and as such are avoided but with the consequence of not adequately preparing oneself for an inevitable truth of our faith: That this world as we know it will end and all will face the Judgement of Christ, at both the end of our mortal lives and at the end of time when all the living and dead will stand before Son of Man and know that their redemption or perdition has drawn near.
· Apocalyptic biblical literature is not easy to interpret with its many signs, symbols and predictions of catastrophic events. The Church has given us a helpful formula to interpret these texts by seeing how they speak of what took place in the past, what will occur in the unknown future and what they mean for us right here and now.
· The lesson we learn about the past is when Jesus speaks today of signs in the sun, the moon and the stars that cause distress among the nations, causing many of faint in fear and foreboding of what is to be come as the heavens are shaken. These events took place a mere 40 years after Jesus ascended into heaven when the city of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Emperor Titus.
· The smoke, fire and mass destruction made it feel like the celestial bodies were being destroyed as Jerusalem was reduced to ash and rubble. Many saw this event as a sure sign that the world was coming to an end as they saw God’s temple and holy city burnt to the ground.
· Many Christians were certain Jesus would appear after Jerusalem’s demise as a fulfillment of his promise that he would return when the world was to end, yet such did not occur, reminding them that it was not for them to declare that the end had come but that they should instead always be ready for when the end of days would take place.
· The lesson we learn about the future is that the imagery Jesus used in today’s Gospel, while referring to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, are symbolic signs that we will continually see throughout human history as reminders that any calamity, war or natural disaster is a sign that our human lives, and that of our planet, are fragile and temporary, and as such we must live with a spirit of readiness and expectation that if today is my last than I am ready to meet Jesus and find in him a merciful and just judge.
· The lesson we learn about the present is that God is continually calling us to improve our lives and be renewed in that spirit of hopeful expectation of when we will meet him face to face.
· As one of my wise seminary professors reminded me, the day Jesus ascended in heaven was the beginning of the end of days, since from that moment on any day could be the last, and so we must be alert at all times, praying that we have strength to confront the challenges of the last days as we get ready to stand before the Son of Man.
· Such is the gift of the Advent season, where for 4 weeks we are invited to examine ourselves and ask just how ready I am to meet the Lord, in the near future at Christmas and when my life comes to an end or if He was to return in glory.
· Often we find that many have transformed Advent into a sort of 40 days of Christmas, a celebration that begins on American Thanksgiving, followed quickly by the consumerist holiday of Black Friday and continues on in Advent with ongoing celebrations until December 25th when after Boxing Day and another day of shopping we toss out our Christmas trees in a spirit of exhaustion for the 40 days that have past!
· Dear friends, let us not be too quick to celebrate the birth of our saviour when he is asking us in the next few weeks to not only build up our excitement for the feast of Christmas and the holy days that follow but to also pay heed to his call to consider how we are living our Christian lives and if we are truly at peace with the fact that if our lives were to unexpectedly come to an end that we would be ready to meet the Lord.
· This is why many have seen Advent as a somewhat penitential season, where we might choose to deny ourselves certain things like nice food or drink as a way to really enjoy Christmas. Yes, this is the time when many office parties and gatherings do occur and there is nothing wrong with attending such events, but perhaps we could have a certain spirit of self-restraint while we attend so as to really make Christmas a special day!?
· St. Paul says we should seek to have hearts in holiness that we might be found blameless before Our God and Father at the coming our Lord Jesus with all his saints. We can all have such a spirit when Christmas arrives by having used this Advent season well to prepare for December 25th and also that Day of Days when we will meet the Lord again.