Nov 28: First Sunday of Advent Year A
Readings: Isaiah 2:1-5; Romans 13:11-14; Mt. 24:37-44
Waiting, watching and preparing: are the three key words that sum up best, the Advent Season that we begin today. But first we reflect on one Advent symbol that undergirds the spirit of Advent – the Advent Wreath.The Advent Wreath (in its modern form) is part of a long Catholic tradition. It was based on pre-Christian Germanic people who used wreaths with lighted candles as a way of keeping their hopes of Spring hight during cold and dark Winter days of North Europe. By the Middle Ages, Christians adapted this tradition and used Advent wreathes as part of their spiritual preparation for Christmas. In brief, the Advent wreath symbolizes the light and hope that will come with Christmas. The Advent season that we begin today is therefore a season of waiting, watching and preparing. The prophecy of Isaiah in the first reading sets the tone. Isaiah sees in a vision all the nations coming to the mountain of the Lord, where the Lord teaches his ways to the nations, so that they will no longer wage war against each other. That is what we are all waiting for: a time when nations will transform their weapons of war into tools of cultivation and harvesting for their people. In other words, Advent is a season of waiting with hope for a time when the Lord comes to bring peace, first in our hearts and in the world. During his presidential campaign in 1960, John F. Kennedy often used to close his speeches with the story of Colonel Abraham Davenport, Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives back in 1780. One day, while the House was in session, the sky of Hartford suddenly grew dark and gloomy. Some of the representatives looked out and thought that was a sign that the end of the world had come. Uproar ensued with the representatives calling for immediate adjournment. But Davenport rose and said, “Gentlemen, the Day of Judgment is either approaching or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment. If it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. Therefore, I wish that candles be brought.” Candles were brought and the session continued. May we be found doing our duty as Christians when Christ comes into our hearts this Christmas. Both the Gospel and Paul’s Letter to the Romans give us some indication on how we are to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ through conversion and watchfulness.
The Gospel reading urges us to stay awake and to be ready "because the Son of Man is coming at an hour" we least expect. St. Paul in the second reading suggests that we prepare ourselves through conversion by throwing “off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light,” and by putting “on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh”. The three readings of today underline two basic Advent themes: the first one is anticipation and hope for the second coming of our Lord and Savoir, who brings peace into our hearts and in the world, symbolized by the green circular wreath. The circle points to the promise of eternal life. The 5 candles: three purple, one rose and one white in the canter are lit on each Sunday, with the white one being lit on Christmas Day. The lighting of the candles reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world that comes into the darkness of our lives, to bring us newness, life and hope. The second Advent theme symbolized by the color purple is conversion and renewal in preparing a suitable place to welcome our Savoir in our hearts. This conversion is also a call to be instruments of peace in the world, so that a kingdom of peace may come about; so that nations may no longer engage in wars; so that neighbours may talk of peace and not of war; so that God’s reconciling love may become a reality. Briefly we may sum up the message of this Sunday as follows: 1) The season of Advent is a season of watching and waiting with hope for Christ, who brings peace into our hearts and in the world; 2) Advent is a time of looking forward with eagerness and anticipation for the joy of salvation that Christmas brings. 3) But above all it is a season of spiritual preparation to receive Christ in our hearts by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
©2010 John S. Mbinda
Music & Homily