Thursday, November 27, 2014

Homily (2) 1st Sunday of Advent, Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily (2) 1st Sunday of Advent, Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7; Ps 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19; 1 Cor 1:3-9 and Mark 13:33-37.

The Time /Kairos Belongs to God!

 How often do we not hear people say to one another, “hang-in there, God’s time is the best’? Behind this expression is the human person’s eagerness, anxiety, uncertainty, curiosity, wanting to know the when? The how? The where? The why? And of course, an expression of our total dependence upon God. It expresses hope for deliverance, and hope for so many other things, depending on our needs, or the situation in which we find ourselves.  It also expresses faith, expectation, watchfulness and our trust in God.

In the minds of every Christian, worldwide, Advent is a time we relive this expression “God’s time is the best! It is a time of prayer; a time of expectation, a time we prepare and patiently wait for the coming of Christ, God’s Son, at Christmas; that moment of God’s intervention, becoming like one of us, in order to save us!

The readings of today, each, redefines this time for us in contexts. For all Israel’s prophets, including 3rd Isaiah (Isa 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7) this time was the “Day of the Lord.” That time  when the Lord accompanied them throughout their journeys and exiles. When they were in trouble of slavery, dryness, starvation,  sin or faced challenges in rebuilding the new community, they placed their hope and trust in God, who comes down, and renders heavens to save Israel! Israel's dependence in this God is as a child to a father, or a clay in the potter’s hand.

 In psalm 80, Israel is also prayerful, watchful, and hopeful for that time, that day, in that God who will continue to shepherd Israel, smiles divinely at them, protects them, irrigates and prunes the vine he had planted, no matter what! Each of us, the Christian community is that vine the Lord had planted.

Saint Paul  too believes this. In the second reading, while preaching to despairing Corinthian-Christian community in the early stages of their faith development, affirms,  that hopeful time is the time of our Lord Jesus Christ. The grateful Paul, says to the community;

 “I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in him you were enriched in very way, with all discourse and all knowledge, as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:3-9).

 In the Gospel, Mark uses Kairos to describe this time of the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, to his eager disciples. It is an important time, an appointed time; a quality time (Mark 1:15); a time of fulfilment;  the day of the Lord, a time nobody knows (Mark 13:33).  This time can only be handled by faith, watchfulness, being alert, loving our neighbors, forgiving those who have offended us and asking those we have offended for forgiveness, as well as offering services of charity to the poor, and the needy! 

  The danger is that, Advent Season and Christmas can come and go without our realizing that “God’s time is the best,” and that God is hidden in every events of our life’s journeys. Like the gatekeeper in the Gospel passage of today (Mark 13:34), the Church invites us during this Advent not to remain chronologically static, or be carried away by the media, the politics of the day, the noise, the violent on our streets, the wars and the threats of war. Or even by our own weaknesses and sins, thinking that they are beyond repairs. Our relationship with God can always be repaired, so also the broken relationship with our neighbors.

Sometimes Christians are also despaired because of the social, political and religious situations they find themselves. Some are poor, some are sick, some have lost their loved ones recently, while some are affected by Ebola/HIV epidemics, with health insurances, some are  plagued with  religious fundamentalisms/ extremisms, injustices, discrimination, racism, and terrible natural disasters.

In all these, Advent invites us to hope and trust in God’s time, that moment of divine intervention, symbolized in the joys of Christmas!