Homily For 1st Sunday of Advent Yr C – A TIME OF COMING TOGETHER by Fr Galadima Bitrus, OSA

(A Meditation for the 1st Sun of Advent, Yr C; 28.11.21 by Fr Galadima Bitrus, OSA)
Dear friends, we have come a full cycle. The liturgical year B which we started with the first
week of Advent last year has ended and we are beginning today another liturgical year, cycle
C. Therefore, it is a new season of Advent. The word “Advent” (Lat. “Adventus”) simply means
“coming”, which translates the Greek, “Parousía” which means “arrival”, literally “being
around” (from the Greek preposition, “para” = “around”, and the noun, “ousía”= “being”).
In the 1st Reading, we hear of the “coming” of days when the Lord will fulfill his promises to
Israel and Judah. The 2nd Reading speaks of the “coming” of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his
saints. In the Gospel, we hear of men fainting with fear and foreboding of what “is coming”
on the world, but also of the “coming” of the Son of man in a cloud with power and glory.
Clearly, therefore, Advent is characterized by the coming together of time (coming days),
events (coming things) and persons (coming Son of Man and coming of the Lord), hence, the
In the 1st Reading (Jer 33:14-16), the prophet Jeremiah announces the “coming days” (Heb,
“yāmîm bā’îm”) when the Lord will fulfill the good words he spoke to the house of Israel and
the good words he spoke concerning the house of Judah. The content of those good words is
a promise to make grow an upright growth or Descendant of David, who will bring about
justice and righteousness (mišpāth and ṣedāqâ) in the land. Also, that Judah will be saved and
Jerusalem will stabilize in terms of security. This figure the Lord will raise will call Jerusalem,
“the Lord is our righteousness” (‘Ādōnāy Ṣidqēnȗ).
Decadence and division had befallen Israel after Solomon, becoming two fragile kingdoms, in
place of the strong united, secure and prosperous kingdom David founded and Solomon
consolidated. The passage shows that the Lord considers the solution to the continuous
decline of this kingdom to consist in raising up a descendant of David, the founder of the
united kingdom.
While it was the Lord who would raise David’s descendant to the throne, it was to be the duty
of such a Davidic king to bring about justice and righteousness in the land, a situation that
will, in turn, bring about the salvation or restoration of the united kingdom of Israel and the
security of Jerusalem, its capital.
In these times when the peoples of the world and nations of the world are divided both
internally and between one another, the season of Advent and the readings today in
particular, invite us to realize that when we are divided, our nations and our world are
doomed to be destroyed and as a result, our towns or cities and people lack security and
Therefore, the season offers us the solution to the destruction of the human kingdom and the
insecurity in our families, cities, and countries as consisting in our coming together and
understanding that we share a common origin, often also common essential aspirations, and
certainly also a common destiny. Remembering and celebrating these commonalities is the
way to restoring the unity of a divided kingdom. We must promote the consciousness that
above all else, we are “all brothers” (Fratelli tutti), as Pope Francis puts it.
We pray, therefore, that God may raise from among us, leaders of the stock of David, that is,
leaders who represent the vision of our common origin, aspirations and destiny; not leaders
who think that there is something that makes us fundamentally irreconcilable but people who
genuinely believe that we are fundamentally interconnected, that I am because we are, that
united we stand and divided we fall.
The 2nd Reading (1 Thes 3:12-4:2) is a prayer that concludes the first part of Paul’s 1st letter
to the Thessalonians (1:1-3:13), a letter which is considered the oldest New Testament
writing. In this prayer, Paul asks the Lord to make love increase and become abundant among
the Thessalonians, so that at his coming with all his saints, the Lord will confirm their hearts
as blameless in holiness before our God and Father (3:12-13).
In other words, love, plenty of love was all that the Thessalonians needed to be confirmed
holy, even as they looked forward to the Lord’s coming. As we too look forward to the Lord’s
coming, we need to pray for more and more of love in our world which is living through a
moment of unimaginable hate, knowing that the only antidote to radical hate is radical love.
In the Gospel (Lk 21:25-36), we read of the coming of the Son of man in a cloud, with power
and glory. As we are by now used to, this apocalyptic language of the Son of man refers to
one in human form. His coming with glory and power in a cloud indicates his heavenly or
divine origin and nature. Son of Man is, therefore, a designation for a messianic figure which
the New Testament identifies with Christ, explicitly referred to as the “Son of Man” in several
passages and whose second coming was being awaited by early Christians.
The Gospel emphasizes the fact of the coming of the Son of Man, as the end of the era of
tribulation which believers will experience in the world, rather than the reason for the
tribulation. It is the new creation which brings order again into a world that has relapsed into
primordial chaos, disorder and formlessness. Therefore, the Gospel encourages believers to
remain strong as these terrifying events take place, being guided by the certainty that there
is light at the end of the dark tunnel; that the Son of Man, the Messiah, redeemer, liberator,
recreator will surely come and restore order which is synonymous with peace.
A life of prayerful watchfulness is recommended to stay strong and to survive the chaotic
times of tribulation. Other pseudo-coping mechanisms in the face of fear and tribulation, such
as dissipation (sensual pleasures), drunkenness and worries, we are told, can only weigh our
hearts down. In other words, we cannot drink our way through tribulations; we cannot
dissipate our way through suffering; we cannot worry our way out of distress but we can pray
our way through it. In prayer, we ask for that grace to persevere in the face of tribulation and
we invite the Son of Man to make haste to help us.
Let us pray: “Christ come quickly, there is danger at the door. Poverty a plenty, hearts gone
wild with war. There is hunger in the city and famine on the plain. Come, Lord Jesus, the light
is dying, the night keeps crying: come, Lord Jesus!” (Advent Song: Catholic Hymn Book 156).

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