Sunday, 1 December 2019 : First Sunday of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we begin the season of Advent and the new liturgical year cycle with the celebration of the first Sunday of Advent. On this Sunday we begin the time of preparation for the coming of the great celebration of Christmas, a time for us to recollect ourselves and to redirect our thoughts and interior disposition that we may truly celebrate Christmas with the fullness of faith and love for God.

On this first Sunday of Advent, we focus on the first of the four themes of the Sundays of Advent, namely hope, peace, joy and love. We begin with hope as we light the first of the four candles of the Advent wreath. This hope that we focus on today is a reminder that first and foremost, the theme of Advent itself comes from the origin of its name, ‘Adventus’ in Latin, which means ‘The Coming of…’ and the appearing of none other than the Saviour of the whole world, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, first and foremost, this season of Advent is a time for hope and to look for that hope, the hope which we can truly find in God alone. Advent is the time for the renewal of that hope within our hearts and minds, as we begin the new cycle of the liturgical year and as we look forward to the coming of Christmas. As with all New Year celebrations in our world today, we know of how everyone looks forward to a better year, filled with hopes and expectations. It is no different with what we are celebrating today.

And Christ is our one and true hope, hope that overcomes even the darkness of the world, the tyranny of sin and death. It is because we have hope in Christ and in His salvation that we are able to look forward to the coming year and persevere through life with faith. His coming into this world that we celebrate every Christmas is the wonderful light that pierces through the darkness of the world, and gave us a new hope.

This is what has been alluded throughout the Scripture passages today, beginning from our first reading from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, in which we heard of the vision that the prophet Isaiah saw concerning the last days when the Lord will come again in His glory to rule over His people and gather all of those who are faithful to Him, the time when God will bless and hold up His people forever.

This is the hope that God has given to all of us, the hope for His salvation and the eternal life of glory and true joy that we are all looking forward to, which Our Lord, Jesus Christ has revealed to us by His coming into this world. That is why during this season of Advent, we are in fact celebrating a two-fold celebration, first of the remembrance of the time when we mankind awaited the coming of Our Lord and Messiah, and then secondly the expectation of the coming, once again, of Our Lord at the end of time.

That is why we rejoice so at the time of Advent, but in a more muted and subdued way because we are anticipating for the coming and the fulfilment of the fullness of joy which is to come through the Lord and which we remember and commemorate at Christmas. That is why the nature of the liturgical colour of this season being that of violet or purple, which is reminiscent of the penitential and preparatory nature of Lent in the preparation for the coming of Easter.

Yet, for all these joy that we are expecting, if we observe all around us, we can see what is often missing from the celebration and festivities is none other than the One Whom we truly are celebrating for, that is none other than Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, and the reason why we have Christmas and its joyful commemorations in the first place. But the world has largely forgotten Christ and Christmas and its festivities has become nothing more than just another festival and celebration.

That is why it is always sad to see how secularised and materialistic the many Christmas celebrations around the world had been, as many people took to the secular and worldly ways of celebrating Christmas, even many among us Christians, who have forgotten the true essence, significance and importance of this joyful and wondrous occasion of the birth of the Saviour of the whole world. Instead, we ended up focusing on the parties, celebrations and festivities.

Let us all look at the obscene amount of marketing, advertising and promotions done to advance the case for the materialistic and worldly Christmas, ironically without Christ being at the centre of the attentions and all the celebrations. Many people thronged to shop and to gain as many bargains as possible from all the Christmas holiday shopping, busying themselves haggling over goods rather than to remember the One Who made all these possible.

We focused on what we want to celebrate on Christmas, on what gifts we are to give or to exchange with each other, focusing on the nitty gritty and details of the celebrations and the festivities, on what decorations and glamorous things we are going to put up or include in the feasts, the food and drink that we are going to partake and enjoy, and yet, in all those things, Christ has often been left out.

Today, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us are called and are reminded strongly of the very important need for us to return Christmas back to Christ, and this means that Christ must be the very centre, focus and the very reason for all of our celebrations and joys throughout this upcoming Christmas season. And that is why we should be blessed that we have been given this time of Advent as a time for us to reflect and to prepare ourselves heart, mind and soul, so that we can truly appreciate and celebrate Christmas in the best way, that is in the Christ-centric manner.

And let us all today also remember that not everyone in the whole world can celebrate Christmas joyfully in the way we do or what we may often see around us. There are parts of the world where our fellow Christians, our brethren who were unable to celebrate Christmas openly, because of persecution and oppression, because of prejudices and other difficulties. Let us also not forget those who had little or no means to celebrate because they are poor and without means to spend to celebrate.

This is why this season of Advent and for the upcoming Christmas season, let us all challenge ourselves to focus our Christmas joy and celebration on Christ, and to remember our brethren in our prayers, those who have no chance to celebrate Christmas because of difficulties and persecutions, and help whenever possible, by our own charitable actions. This means that we should be generous in sharing our joy with our fellow brethren, especially those who are poor and needy and without joy.

Let us all make our upcoming Christmas celebrations more meaningful and wonderful by sharing our joy with one another and remembering that after all it was God Who has first shared with us His joy and love, by sending unto us, His most perfect gift of all for us, Christ, His own Beloved Son, to be Our Lord, Saviour and Redeemer. May all of us have a blessed season of Advent, and may God be with us always in this journey of faith. Amen.

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