Sunday Homilies by Fr. Rudolf V. Dí Souza

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To the disciples' delight the Master said he wanted a new shirt for his birthday. The finest cloth was bought. The village tailor came in to have the Master measured, and promised, by the will of God, to make the shirt within a week.

A week went by and a disciple was dispatched to the tailor while the Master excitedly waited for his shirt. Said the tailor, "There has been a slight delay. But, by the will of God, it will be ready by tomorrow."

Next day the tailor said, "I'm sorry it isn't done. Try again tomorrow and, if God so wills, it will certainly be ready."

The following day the Master said, "Ask him how long it will take if he keeps God out of it."

Preparation: Some of us prepare for a journey, others prepare to deliver a speech and many others who prepare daily for their job, work and do some assignments to fulfill the expected results. Hence, during this Advent season we too are requested to prepare for the coming of the Lord. Well in Europe preparations for commercial Christmas began three months ago selling specially the lottery tickets of EL GORDO, that has a prize money of 25 million Euros. One who wins will be just not in his/her normal life. One who wins that lottery will be feeling as it were on cloud 9 or in heaven already. But this is too worldly; the things of this world will pass away. But the things that really matter are Godís kingdom deep within us. Therefore a preparation would be really justified in order to invite the Lord into our hearts and to make him the ruler of our life.

To some, today's celebration of the First Sunday of Advent is a reminder that there is less than one month before the arrival of Christmas. To others, it means that the rush is on to put twinkling lights around the house, to buy what is needed for the Christmas pastry cooking, to shop for presents. And to others yet, it means to make peace with relatives so all may enjoy a wonderful family Christmas as Christ intended it to be.

According to the teachings of the Catholic Church, Advent means three things:

(1) It means to prepare ourselves to be worthy of celebrating the Christmas anniversary of the Lord's coming into the world as the incarnate God of love.

(2) It means that through the Sacrament of Holy Communion and through grace, we are to prepare our souls as fitting abodes for the coming of the Redeemer.

(3) It means to prepare ourselves for the final coming of the Lord as our Judge, either at death or at the end of the world, whichever may come first.

Today three readings from the Holy Bible prepare us to be spiritually uplifted according to these three goals of the Season of Advent.

The First Reading from the Book of Jeremiah, insists that during the days of the Old Testament, the Lord God repeated the promises that He had made to Abraham and to His descendants. [Gen. 22:15-18] To Abraham and his offspring, God had promised to bless them, that they would be as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And they shall possess the gate of their enemies and by his offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves.

Over and above this, God was now promising that a righteous Branch would spring up from the descendants of King David, the righteous One executing justice and righteousness in the land. While the Jewish people of those days took these words as meaning to indicate the coming of a King and a worldly kingdom, that was not what God was referring to. He was referring to a spiritual Kingdom in which Christ, the offspring, [Gal. 3:16] would be the First fruit of many to follow. [1 Cor. 15:20, 23] God was speaking of the spiritual Kingdom that was promised to Abraham, he who was to become the spiritual father of all those who live by faith. [Rom. 4:13-8] God was speaking of the Mystical Body of Christ.

For just as the Father has life in Himself, He was going to grant the Son also to have life in Himself. [Jn. 5:26] Through the mystery of the incarnation, He the Father who is the Righteous One [Rom. 10:3] was going to give all authority [Jn. 5:27; 1 Pet. 3:22] to His Son, the Righteous One who was being called to execute justice and righteousness in the land. Through the righteousness of the Lord Jesus, we as the living saints of the Holy Catholic Church receive our righteousness. As such, "the Lord is our righteousness." [Jer. 33:16]

Today's Gospel Reading echoes the fulfillment of the promises of God the Father through the glorious Resurrection of Jesus Christ. While the Reading appears to contain prophecies of days that are ahead of us, such is not the case. Today's passage from the Gospel of Luke was taken from Chapter 21, verses 25 to 28 and 34 to 36. One particular verse of importance was omitted, that being Luke 21:32, where it states, "Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away, until all things have taken place."

Jesus stated that all the signs mentioned during today's Gospel Reading were to be fulfilled before the passing away of the generation that lived in His days. As such, the signs that He was giving to His followers have to be perceived as representative of the ending of the age of the Old Testament and the beginning of the new age, when the New Covenant was made during the Last Supper.

As Saint John states it, "But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written." [Jn. 21:25] While the Holy Bible does not tell us everything that happened after the Resurrection of Jesus, there is sufficient information provided in other passages to tell us that these things have come to pass.

When a reference is made in the Holy Bible to "the powers of the heavens will be shaken." tradition tells us that this is a reference between the great battle between Archangel Michael and Satan, at which time Satan was casted out of Heaven. [Lk. 10:18; Rev. 12:7-10]

On the subject that "Christ redeemed us," [Rom. 3:24; Gal. 3:13; Eph. 1:7] that truth is made known to us through the teachings of the Catholic Church and our ongoing profession of faith.

Regarding seeing the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory, when Jesus called Nathanael as a follower, He told him, "Very truly, I tell you, you will see Heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man." [Jn. 1:51] We can only accept as truth that this came to pass as Jesus promised to Nathanael because Jesus is the truth. God cannot lie. [Tit. 1:2;] No falsehood is found in Him. [Heb. 6:18]

Today's Gospel Reading tells us to be on our guard so our hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, so the day of the Lord will not catch us unexpectedly, as in a trap. No one knows when he will die! No one knows when he will appear before the Lord God to be judged for his worldly behaviour! As such, no one can prepare himself as one prepares himself to go on a holiday.

Therefore, Divine wisdom tells us that we should always be prepared! We should immediately be prepared in case the Lord calls us tonight during our sleep. Before our bedtime tonight, if anything needs to be done, it must be completed. For there may be no tomorrow.

Today's Second Reading from the First Letter to the Thessalonians gives us sound advise as to how we should prepare ourselves. Which ever comes first, that we depart from this world before the final return of the Lord Jesus or He gloriously returns with His saints on the last day, either way, we should abound in love for one another and for all. Our love should not be limited to our friends, but also for our enemies. Our love should not be limited towards those we are talking to, but also towards those we are not talking to. Our love should not be limited to those we can forgive, but also towards those we have difficulty forgiving. "For with the judgment you make you will be judged and the measure you give will be the measure you get." [Mt. 7:2]

To be fully prepared, we must have holy hearts so we will be blameless before our God and Father. To achieve this goal, we must walk with the sanctifying Holy Spirit who disciplines us to increase our holiness. We must maintain pure minds at all time. We must receive the Sacrament of Confession to maintain our ongoing righteousness by the grace of God. We must receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the Living Bread, so we will qualify to inherit the eternal Heavenly Kingdom as children of God. We must do all what is humanly possible to continually remain in communion with God on a daily basis.

Not knowing when the coming of the Lord shall be for each and everyone of us, we must persevere in our living faith. Indebted to Christ for our redemption, we cannot allow ourselves to take a break from our living faith. For a shipwreck in our faith by allowing our human nature to take over our spiritual commitment could cost us our blessed hope among the saints and angels in the continuous presence of the Lord Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we received the gift of a new heart and a new spirit, over and above the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to help us and guide us in our spiritual lives. During the coming week, let us embrace a spiritual attitude so the Season of Advent may become something special for us. May Advent be a true moment of preparation for each and everyone of us in the expectation of the coming of Jesus at Christmas, at death, or at the last coming of the Lord, which ever may come first.

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