Fr. Michael kindly shares his homily for the first Sunday in Advent:
+PUT ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST 1st Sunday of
Advent (A) 2016
Let me first wish you a happy and blessed liturgical new year! This first day of Advent is a fresh beginning of sacred time where the word of God is ever living and active. Our readings this morning are full of movement and pilgrimage, of urgency and expectation. “Come let us climb the Lord’s mountain,” the prophet Isaiah tells us. “It is the hour now for you to awake from sleep!” says St Paul. And then Jesus tells us: “You must be prepared for at an hour you do not expect, The Son of Man will come.” Advent arouses in us an awareness that our Savior is near at hand, the need to open our hearts to this loving presence.
The Scripture scholar Dianne Bergant writes of how in the ancient world, “high mountains were believed to be the homes of the gods. The higher the mountain, the more important the god. The highest mountain was also considered the axis mundi, the center of the universe from which all blessings flow. In vision, Isaiah claims that Mount Zion, a mount that is actually of medium height, will be established as the highest mountain. Regardless of its physical proportions, it will enjoy religious stature because it is the site on which is built the Temple of the lord, the place where God dwells in a special way in the midst of the people. It is to this mountain that all nations will stream as if in religious pilgrimage or procession, for it will be from this mountain that the word of the Lord will proceed.”
Isaiah is speaking to us of a new age when all Nations will turn in faithfulness to God so that peace and harmony may abide among them.
For Isaiah, the mountain of the Lord is the place where God dwells in the midst of the people. The reason Isaiah is so often quoted in the Advent season is because of his being the prophet above all, of the Incarnation where in the Word becomes flesh and dwells with us.
St Paul telling us in his letter to the Romans, telling Christians to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” takes us even further into this mystery, to the very heart of our faith. Here is where the Christian climbs the mountain of God, to that place where God dwells with us. To put on Christ is to let ourselves become identified with him, let his life become our own. As Christians do this the new age is already begun. To do this, is to become fully awake, to walk in the day of God’s own loving presence.
We live in a world where one may be easily distracted from this living presence, from what is most meaningful in our lives. We can ignore all too easily our destiny to live in the Light by letting ourselves get caught up into or misguided by the works of darkness. Drunkenness, promiscuity, rivalry and jealousy are no less present in our world today than they were in Paul’s. This clearly is why Christ tells us, as he did his first disciples, to “stay awake!” We must not let our houses “be broken into,” for we must “be prepared” for that hour when “the Son of Man will come.”
Staying awake to the life of Christ at work in us is what this season is holding out as the source of present and lasting joy. To do so is to enter into the eschatological fulfillment, into that lasting peace that gives true meaning to our lives. It is where God meets us now in our daily lives, not in some world way out there. Jesus is calling us now to find God deep within us, in the midst of our everyday lives. In doing so we begin to live in a new world of justice and peace, where we and all peoples, learn to beat our swords into plowshares, our spears into pruning hooks so as to find life and find it abundantly.
Entering into this Eucharist we climb the mountain of the Lord for here it is, above all, that we learn to put on the Lord Jesus. As God’s Holy Spirit is called down upon these gifts of bread and wine they become the risen Christ’s very own Body and Blood, given as the Light and Life of the world. Here, God’s great love is poured into the hearts of to all who approach this altar with faith, making of us a people chosen and precious.
Isaiah 2:1-5; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:37-44