Monday, 16 December 2013

Homily 1st Advent - by Br. simeon

St- Andre-Rublev's Saviour
Holy Redeemer

In the care of the Ecumenical Franciscan Order

Homily, 15th December 2013, 2nd Sunday in Advent, delivered by Br Simeon EFO.

Gospel:  Mt 24:37-44


 O Lord, open our eyes

To behold your presence. 

O Lord, open our ears 

To hear your voice. 

O Lord, open our hearts 
To receive your love. 

O Lord, help us to behold, to hear and to receive you in Word and Sacrament
That our mouths may proclaim your praise. Amen. ( adapted from a prayer by David Adam )

Today we begin the beloved season of Advent. During this time the Church, in her liturgy, gives us for our meditation an abundance of beautiful images about the coming of the Lord. We tend to see Advent as a past event, recalling the birth of Christ but if we fail to move forward from this starting point to Christ coming in glory, our Christmas celebration will be out of focus.

 A proper celebration of Advent recalls the past, celebrates the present, and yet looks to the future coming of Christ with joyful hope and confidence.  In the first part of Advent, the images are mostly about the second and glorious coming of the Lord on the last day, and they teach us the necessity of preparing ourselves now for that great day. In the final part of Advent, we meditate on the incarnation of God on earth in his birth in Bethlehem, so that we might be born anew as persons of the light.   Perched on the edge of another New Year we are invited to look at our world with the eyes of faith and realise that God has a plan and a vision for all of us.

The readings present us with a challenge, to look at life and to begin living with a new perspective. In keeping with the season’s note of expectation, they rivet our attention on the breaking of God into human history. Isaiah’s vision of a new future echoes in all our hearts as he looks forward with hope and expectation to glorious times ahead. He dreams of swords being cast into ploughshares, of unity among nations and of all peoples walking together in the peace of the Lord, who is calling us back home. It is an invitation addressed to each and every one of us. Paul encourages us to lead good and upright lives as the dawn of salvation is upon us.

In the gospel passage,Matthew is referring to the final coming of Jesus in glory and sets his call on perpetual watchfulness, to be ready for that moment on which our eternal destiny will depend. Since there is no precise forewarning as to when that event will take place, it is important to get ready here and now and not be caught idly napping in careless disregard for God, as were the people in Noah’s day who were swept away in the great flood.

Things happen when we least expect. The main thrust of the message is to be vigilant, to rectify our way of life, to admit the need to make a Christian contribution and have a proper lifestyle. A useful reminder of something we would rather forget, is that part of the gospel tradition which tells us that each one of us after death comes face to face in judgement with our God. On that occasion we will be alone and held

personally accountable for our life. Busy as we are with our daily activity, we tend to put the thought of that encounter at the back of our minds, giving it scant attention instead of using it as a benchmark and a horizon against which to measure our lives. The gospel warns us against being lulled into a false sense of security, living with only the minimal concern for how our actions appear in God’s eyes.

 Advent is a joyful celebration of the condition we find ourselves in as Christians. It announces that God is always moving towards us. He is at work in the world and in our lives, ever creative and ever renewing. The Lord comes to us every day if we are properly disposed, in prayer, in events and in other people. The good news is that we are pilgrims on the move and are going home to God’s house. The only worthwhile baggage to carry on that journey is good works and acts of loving service performed for Christ. The liturgy invites us to allow this future hope to shape our present lives. It’s an invitation to see our life as a preparation for the great call home. We have the assurance that in Christ God has opened up for us a future hope in a life beyond our time.

This seasonal call, proposing a deep change in values, beckons us to look forward to Christ’s return in glory. We need to find the time and space to stop, reflect and recognise the hope we have been given in Jesus Christ. Without repentance, forgiveness and renewal there can be no real Christmas Joy.