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1st Sunday of Advent [B]

Mark 13:33-37

Rev. Azam Vianney Mansha, CJM

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Welcome to the new liturgical year! May I ask each of you to welcome your neighbor and wish them a happy and blessed new liturgical year.

The first Sunday of the Advent marks the Church year in which a sequence of seasons and feasts are celebrated in the liturgy during a year’s time.

We are blessed to begin this new year journey of the Church with the symbolic language of the church i.e., Advent wreath and five candles i.e., hope, love, joy, peace and Christ the light of the world [John 8:12]. We can say that Advent is the season of light in which we are all invited to carry the light of Christ in us [John 8:12-13] so that according to the teaching our “light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” [Matthew 5:16 NSRV].

Through the parable of watchfulness, Jesus is initiating the process of home-coming i.e., to go back in the presence of God as we are all have “our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” [Philippines 3:20]. What a beautiful feelings to have that our Heavenly Father is waiting for us [Matthew 18:14].

Lighting the first candle of advent i.e., the candle of hope is a gentle reminder for us that no matter what wrong we have done, or what good we have not done or how imperfect we may feel, or how imperfect we act towards others, God is always there, waiting for us with open arms, ready to embrace us, ready to kiss us and ready to renew us in His Divine Love [Luke 15:11-32].

Now it is our duty to prepare ourselves to meet the Father and that is why Jesus our brother has called us to prepare ourselves for home-coming. This process of preparation is not passive but active because our preparation is not ordinary but it is spiritual. The devil will disturb our process and will try to take us away from the Lord with his honey talk such as:

- There is no need to be hurry in your preparation because the Lord is not coming this year

- Do not worry about your preparation, just live your life and enjoy

- You are doing so much work therefore you do not need extra preparation

Hence we should not forget that, “if the devil cannot make us bad, he will make us busy” [Corrie ten Boom]. We must always keep in our heart and in our soul that we have to prepare ourselves for the Lord as well as to fight against devil who is a murderer and a father of hopelessness and lies [John 8:44].

We are in need of an immediate preparation like a Roman solider to witness the Christian life, to show the merciful face of the Father to others and stand with all those who are suffering in the name of Jesus. Therefore our preparation begins with the belt of truth i.e., to stand and support all those people who need us especially, typhoons effected, suffering humanity, our kababayan who are facing injustice [Matthew 25:35]. We need the breastplate of righteousness / holiness i.e., to offer through Jesus our good works to the Heavenly Father [Matthew 5:15-16], to put our feet into the shoe of Jesus Christ to proclaim the Gospel of peace [Mt 5:9] and to keep in our heart and soul the living Word of God to stand against evil and injustice.

Let us keep burning our candle of hope with preparation for the Lord with this reminder that “to fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure and to welcome [find] Him, the greatest human achievement” [St. Augustine of Hippo].

May Mary the Mother of Jesus and our Mother intercede for us to prepare ourselves to welcome the Lord in our mind, heart and soul.

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