Homily for 1st Sunday in Advent, Cycle A

posted Nov 28, 2016, 11:21 AM by Church Office   [ updated Nov 28, 2016, 11:21 AM by Michelle Massung ]


            In today’s first reading, Isaiah gives us the first glimpse of the coming of the Lord by telling us to walk in the light of the Lord.  Then in the second reading from St. Paul to the Romans, he talks about how we are to throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Before electricity, people got up at the first sign of light to take advantage of the natural light.  The change of clothes is a way of saying that we should strip off our sinful ways and put on the garments and light of Christ for others to see.  Armor of light protects us against the temptation of the devil; most temptation occurs in the dark according to Paul.  Paul wrote this letter about 25 years after Jesus ascended into heaven and the new church was anticipating Christ’s return in the very near future, not thousands and thousands of years after his ascension.  This is why there is such a sense of urgency in his tone of voice in this letter.

            So why are we called to do this now?  We need to live in the light of Christ to prepare ourselves for his coming at Christmas and then continue this way of life until he comes again.  However, people have been hearing this message from St. Paul and St. Matthew for thousands of years.  We can wait on the sidelines or we can get out there and live in the kingdom of Heaven on earth now as a way of preparing ourselves for the kingdom of God in heaven with God.  The Gospel refers to the people living during the time of Noah and they had no warning before the flood came.  St. Matthew also says that two men will be working in the field and one will be taken and one left behind.  Two women will be at the grinding mill and one will be taken and one will be left behind.  Why the reference to two men and two women? During the time of Jesus, men held places of prominence in society and women were considered second class citizens.  Matthew wanted to make sure that the message of the final judgment will pertain equally to men and women.  The other point St. Matthew is trying to make is that it appears each man and woman are dong the same thing; either working in the field or at the mill, yet one is taken or the other left behind.  Only Jesus knows what is in our hearts and our outward appearance is only the perception people have of us as Christians.  St. Paul tells us to wake up and smell the coffee, to start living a life that we as Christians can be proud of, not a hypocritical on. Darkness covers up our actions, light exposes us for the good or the bad. 

            So how do we shed our sinfulness and live in the light of Christ?  Fr. Cedric, a Passionist priest and close friend of mine from Houston, TX, really helped me to understand how to do this.  He taught me that there is a root cause of why we commit the sins we do.  It is only in treating this root cause that allows us to curtail our sinfulness.  For example, when I wanted to eliminate my sin of drunkenness, Fr. Cedric determined that I drank as way to promote my image as a person, I was suffering from low self esteem and drank to raise my self esteem.  In order to stop getting drunk, we had to find an alternative to alcohol to raise my self esteem.  He asked that I allow God’s love for me to raise my self esteem rather than alcohol.  We worked on me having a more personal relationship with Jesus and as a result, I was able to stop drinking and getting drunk by turning my drinking problem over to Jesus and trust in him to keep me sober.  It was only by addressing the root cause of my sin that we were able to eliminate it. 

            This week, as we start a new year in the church, take time and examine your sins and try and determine the root cause.  Once you have done this, try to see how this can be eliminated or changed with God’s help.  If you have trouble determining the root cause of your sinfulness, please let me know and I will try to help you.  May you have a happy New Year and grow closer to Christ and serving your neighbor.  This will allow you to live in the light of Christ now and at the time of his coming at Christmas and in the second coming.