HOME Homily Archives - Year C First Sunday of Advent, Year C

First Sunday of Advent, Year C
Homily. Readings: Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25; 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2; Luke 21:25-28, 34-36.


Purple Stole and Gospel
: Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25; 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2; Luke 21:25-28, 34-36

Today the season of Advent begins, a journey of spiritual renewal in preparation for Christmas. The liturgy rings out with the voices of the prophets, who proclaim the Messiah, asking for conversion of heart and for prayer (First Feading).

John the Baptist, the last and greatest of them, cries out: "Prepare the way of the Lord!" (Gospel), because he "will come to visit his people in peace." Preparing for his birth means reawakening the hope of peace in ourselves. This peace corresponds not just to our desire for temporal tranquility and security, but also to the deepest longings of the human heart: intimate friendship with God and a sure path to reach him. The essence of this friendship is love.

Christ´s coming into the world of man – into our world and our lives – must be more than an isolated memory or a momentary celebration. The worthy celebration of Christmas requires purification and growth in the theological virtues of faith, hope and love. These virtues provide the framework for Christian life and find their origin in the mystery of Christ, especially his Incarnation and birth.

Our faith, hope and love are challenged and nurtured in the most profound of ways throughout the year when we let the full force of the Christmas mystery impact us deeply and touch every aspect of life. Christ´s coming at Christmas is more than an event of the distant past. The Church speaks traditionally of three comings that refer, in a certain sense, to each dimension of our temporality and to each of the theological virtues: his coming in the past, especially through the Paschal Mystery, is the very content of our faith; his coming in the present, made real through the life of grace, is the source of love in us; and his coming in the future, at the hour of our death and ultimately at final judgment, is the object of our hope.

Only when faith, hope and love are purified and deepened is man made truly secure in God and before God. Only then does he possess peace and project it in human society. The Gospel powerfully illustrates this point. We are presented with a contrasting spectacle: those who "die of fright" because the final tribulations signal the destruction of everything on which they had based their security, and those who "stand erect" with raised heads because this apparent catastrophe is actually the sign of their redemption and vindication. Both types of people live and suffer the same tribulations, but they face them in different ways and derive different outcomes.

Since our Christian vocation flows from the mystery of the Incarnation, Advent is the perfect season to explore its greatness and transcendence. Out of love, God decides to save man by becoming one of us. Going even further, he commits himself to serving man. "Being God, he emptied himself, becoming a slave like us in all things except sin." What madness of love! That was the only way he could suffer, offer himself in sacrifice and redeem man: "Father, you have given me a body made for sacrifice; here it is, I have come to do your will."

Contemplating this, who is not going to fall in love with Christ, who will not passionately give himself to him, spending his own life, just as Christ did, in the hard but sublime task of Redemption, each according to their own state and situation? And the path for doing so is the same, no matter how we are called to serve: to sacrifice yourself by depending totally and absolutely on God´s will. Like Christ, we must always be ready and willing to do God´s will.

To achieve this, we must develop the ability to reflect deeply on Christ´s life and serenely contemplate it. We also need an authentic interior life to keep us in communication with our Lord. Advent is a privileged time to develop the spiritual life, but there are also many pitfalls to be overcome. The penitential aspect of Advent is almost completely lost in today´s post-Christian, consumer-driven society. The thought of Advent often brings to mind a whirlwind of Christmas parties, decorations and getting ready for "Santa." And in the midst of all this we often forget the very reason for these externals: Christ the Lord is coming! If we do not prepare ourselves spiritually for his arrival, we could make the same mistake as the people in Bethlehem who not only missed his coming, but actually rejected him.

What a wonderful thing it would be if Catholics today, through their example, were to bring back to Advent its original meaning as a time of prayer, purification, joyful expectation and wonder. How much we have to learn from those ancient traditions of restraint with regard to the external manifestations of the season until shortly before Christmas, with the bulk of the celebrations occurring in the eight-day period afterwards, the octave! We would reclaim the spiritual meaning of this season and not let it be manipulated or emptied of its true meaning by those who see Christmas only as an opportunity to sell things nobody really needs.