by Fr. Tommy Lane
This first Sunday of Advent reminds that Christmas is just around the corner. We all have our hopes and aspirations for Christmas. These four weeks of Advent are our annual season of waiting in hope for Christ. This season of Advent waiting reminds us that everything is not quite right with our world. Our world is somewhat broken and needs fixing. The world is broken because it does not pay attention to Christ or put Jesus first. The only way to fix our broken world is to mend and repair it with Christ. Christ is the solution to our broken world.
The prophet Jeremiah, whom we read in the first reading today (Jer 33:14-16), was also living in a broken world. In fact he lived in pretty desperate times. He witnessed the Babylonians putting Jerusalem under siege for eighteen months (588-587 BC), and finally burning and destroying it. He escaped with some of his fellow people down to Egypt. Yet despite all this destruction and chaos he was hopeful. In the first reading today Jeremiah proclaimed to his fellow Jews that the Lord would fulfill the promise he had made (through the prophet Isaiah 11:1). What is the promise the Lord made? To make a righteous Branch grow up for David, to make a just Shoot grow up for David and that Branch/Shoot will do what is right and just in the land. This means Jeremiah believes God will fulfill his promise to provide offspring for King David. But David had been king centuries before Jeremiah and Jeremiah in his own time saw the monarchy coming to an end right before his eyes when Jerusalem was destroyed and there was never again a king in Jerusalem. So what could Jeremiah possibly mean that God would fulfill his promise to provide offspring for King David? Jeremiah was talking about Jesus. David was of the tribe of Judah and Jesus also was of the tribe of Judah. Jesus would be the answer to all the Jewish hopes of the Old Testament. Not only did Jeremiah foresee that God’s promise of Jesus would be fulfilled, but as we heard in the reading, Jeremiah also said the city of Jerusalem would be called, “The Lord is our justice.” Very often the prophets refer to a future glorious Jerusalem and they mean the Church of the New Testament. (In Rev 21:2 the Church is described as the New Jerusalem) So even though the city was attacked Jeremiah said God will send Jesus, and instead of this destroyed city being our home our future home will be the Church. Jeremiah saw that the answer to the chaos of his time was Jesus and that our future home would be the Church.
Jeremiah looked to the future, to Christ. We too during Advent look to the future, and during this early part of Advent our liturgy looks forward to the Second Coming of Christ. Jesus himself talks about his Second Coming in the Gospel today (Luke 21:25-28, 34-36). After describing the cosmic signs before his Second Coming Jesus warns,
Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:36)
Jesus says we are to stay awake and pray, we are to prepare to meet him. So during this Advent we are to prepare not only for Santa Claus coming to town but above all we are to prepare for Jesus coming to town. Jesus says to stay awake and pray.
There is really only one gift at Christmas and that gift is Jesus coming to us. We can make a return gift to Jesus, a return gift of our lives pleasing to him. The second reading today encourages us to prepare our hearts for Jesus this Advent,
…may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all…so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus…(1 Thes 3:12-13)
What better gift can we give to Jesus at Christmas than to have lived Advent in union with him? What better gift can we give to Jesus at Christmas than to have removed from our lives this Advent anything and everything that keeps us apart from Jesus? What better gift can we give Jesus at Christmas than to be able to say to him, “During Advent I reformed my life because I love you as my Lord”? If there is anything therefore in our lives that is not pleasing to Jesus we can use this time of Advent to break with sin and leave sin behind so that we can stay awake and pray waiting for Jesus. We want to give Jesus this gift of our lives because just as Jeremiah looked to Jesus as God’s promise we also look to Jesus this Advent as God’s promise in our lives.
Jeremiah lived in desperate times and our world now is also broken in so many ways because it does not pay attention to Christ or put Jesus first. But Jeremiah saw that the answer to the chaos of his time was Jesus, and the solution to our broken world now is Jesus. The only way to fix our broken world is to mend and repair it with Christ. Christ is the solution to our broken world. This Advent we prepare not just for Santa Claus coming to town but above all for Jesus coming to town. (Where’s the line to see Jesus?) As we wait in hope for the gift of Christ coming to us, we can make a return gift to Jesus, a return gift of our lives pleasing to him.
Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013
More homilies for the First Sunday of Advent Year C
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