FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR A
27th November 2016.
Isaiah 2:1-5; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:37-44.
The new liturgical year, cycle A, begins on this First Sunday of Advent. Advent is a time we prepare for the reenactment of the events that marked the beginnings of human salvation in Christ. We prepare to celebrate the birth of the messiah. The call that resounds in the readings deal with a life focused on the union with God. The Christian life is designed towards union with God. The concrete reality of human life experience is captured within the design- the past, present and the future- directing the entire life towards God. Thus it is very appropriate that the Christian seizes this opportunity of a new liturgical year to live a focused life towards God.
The past is captured in the second reading of the day. St. Paul writing to the Romans, reminds them of the need to drop the deeds of the past. Especially those shameful acts that is associated with darkness. He speaks of the acts that brings a lot of regrets to our lives. Those acts that we prefer not to discuss or share due to fear and shame. He encourages the Romans to use the opportunity of the new Christian alternative to make amends of the past and live in the brightness of the day light. Cognizance of the fact that the fundamental option for the Christian life puts us in the spot light with regards to our past. The brightness of the light contrary to popular opinion, will enable us to shun all form of licentiousness, promiscuity and jealousy. The hope that awaits us in the future is worth more than the distress of the past.
The gospel focuses on the present, the here and now. The evangelist takes example from the days of Noah when the people lived without vision and hope. According to him, ‘For in those days before the Flood people were eating, drinking, taking wives, taking husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark, and they suspected nothing till the Flood came and swept all away’. The people lived without hope and vision. The evangelist insists that the Christian life is filled with hope and vision. The hope and vision is Jesus Christ. The coming of the Son of Man, Jesus Christ shall be similar to the destruction during the time of Noah. It is not as if there were no warnings prior to the destruction by flood, rather the people were carried away by the pleasures of life right up to the time Noah entered the ark. The lack of the specific time of the Lord’s coming is not a weakness in God, rather it is an expression of His love that guarantees our freedom. He gives us the ability to interpret the chronological trend of events in order to guide our steps and actions.
The first reading from the prophet Isaiah speaks of a future characterized by peace. A peace that will attract the whole of humanity. The Christian life looks towards this peaceful future that is founded on the reign of God. The coming of God’s kingdom guarantees this peace. The future is charged with the expectancy of peace. The present human crisis will be met with peace that the kingdom of God offers. The prophet invites us to come up to the mountain of the Lord from which shall flow the peace that humanity yearns. We shall learn new ways of life that is modelled after the peace. There shall be no need to build the walls of hatred and revenge. The people ‘will hammer their swords into ploughshares, their spears into sickles’. The future offered by the Christian life guarantees the fullness of being.
As we begin the advent season, let us take some time out to look at consciousness. A reflective, conscious living is what the church invites us to meditate on according to the readings. Reality is charged with novelty and only a reflective mind is able to capture it. God speaks through the events around us. We need a conscious or reflective mind to get the message these events communicate. A reflective life focuses on the chronological trend of events. This enables us not to miss the novelty that is the voice of God.
Anthony Ekpunobi, C.M.