Sunday, 3 December 2017 : First Sunday of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday marks the beginning of the season of Advent, the time of preparation before the coming of Christmas, when we will celebrate together the birth or Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Today as the First Sunday of Advent, we also begin a new liturgical year, as a new cycle of the liturgical celebrations begin anew.

We heard the passages from the Scriptures today speaking to us about firstly, from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, reminding us as God’s people that we have fallen from the grace of God when we sinned against Him, disobeying His laws and commandments. Yet, God is ever forgiving and merciful, and He is willing to forgive us our sins, as long as we open ourselves to His mercy and allow His grace and love to transform us from a being filled with sin into a being of light.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we embark through this season of Advent, preparing ourselves for the coming of Christmas, it is important that we take note, that this season is not about preparing our homes with decorations, or the time for us to do our pre-Christmas shopping and preparation for our lavish Christmas parties and celebrations. Instead, this time of Advent is designed for us that we may stop from whatever we have been doing throughout this year, and reflect on them, so as to prepare ourselves spiritually and mentally to celebrate Christmas properly.

Many of us do not understand what Christmas is truly about, and we ended up being drawn into the secular way of celebrating Christmas. In fact, if you look around the town, all the shopping malls and gathering places, and even along the roadsides, you can see plenty of Christmas decorations all over those places. We can see all the Christmas trees, the lights and all the beautiful messages wishing everyone a happy Christmas, happiness, peace and prosperity.

Yet, if we look deeper, except for some noteworthy exceptions we surely have encountered, there is something very important missing from all those Christmas celebrations. And what is that, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is Christ! Christ has been missing from Christmas, and the celebration which is primarily and indeed solely about Christ Our Lord, has lost its true meaning and purpose, hidden beneath layers of excess and revelry.

Many of us worry about what we are to wear during the celebrations, or what to cook or provide in our feasts, but for what purpose? Indeed, it will be good to wear something new and good looking for the festive seasons, but are we doing these for the right purpose? Are we celebrating the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, or are we being vain, trying to look good and beautiful in front of our guests and relatives?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are living in a world awash with many material excesses as well as materialistic attitudes. We are surrounded by all these things, that distract us from the true focus of Christmas. Imagine if in a birthday party, everyone is busy enjoying themselves, talking among themselves and be occupied by various activities, and yet, the person who is having the birthday is forgotten. Is that something logical or right? Surely it is not.

And that is exactly what happens when we come to celebrate Christmas, but not with the right purpose and intention. Instead of a celebration of our faith and rejoicing for the arrival of Our Lord and Saviour, the long awaited Messiah, we have made Christmas to be a celebration of ourselves, our ego and human ambitions, and we have left God out of these celebrations.

The Gospel passage today serves as a reminder for all of us the importance of this season of Advent, as a time of reflection and recollection, for us to think deep in our hearts what it truly means for us to celebrate Christmas, and indeed, what it means to be Christians. For we believe in the Lord Jesus, Our God, Who has descended to us assuming the flesh of Man, and died for us on the cross.

This is the fundamental tenet of our faith which we have to follow and understand, if we are truly willing to understand the true spirit and intention of our Christmas celebrations. For Christmas is not just like any other earthly celebrations and revelry. The very reason we rejoice is because Christmas itself is intimately and inseparably tied with another great event in our faith, that is of the Passion of Our Lord that we celebrate during Good Friday, and His resurrection in Easter.

Without the crucifixion, death and resurrection in Easter, Christmas has no meaning, as then it will be just the birth anniversary of yet another human being, no different from any one of us. Instead, it is because of Easter that Christmas has its meaning, because we believe that God Himself has become Man and entered into the world at the moment of His birth, celebrated as Christmas. And the very purpose of His coming into this world, which makes Easter also inseparable from Christmas, is so that He may lay down His life on the cross, as a perfect sacrificial victim, for the sake of our redemption.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to spend time to reflect on this, and see if we have done what we are expected to do, in preparation for the worthy celebration of Christmas. Otherwise, this time of Advent and eventually this upcoming Christmas season will just pass and go without meaning or purpose for us, year after year, again and again. Instead, all of us as Christians should become role models in our faith, and do our best to worthily welcome Christmas, celebrating the very important moment of the birth of Our Lord, God Who have willingly made Himself a Man, for our sake.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all do our best to prepare ourselves this season of Advent, by going for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, doing confession for our sins and conducting penance through our good works and charity, giving up our bad habits, and prepare ourselves, heart, mind, soul and body to be ready to celebrate Christmas in full faith, no longer focused on ourselves and all the revelries, but instead, returning to our true focus in Our Lord Jesus Christ, the birthday Boy, Whose birth we rejoice at.

May the Lord bless us always, and may He empower each and every one of us, so that we may live faithfully and walk in His ways, all the days of our life, persevering through the challenges of life and all the temptations of this world. May He guide us in this season of Advent, that day after day, we may come ever closer to God and His grace. Amen.

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