God’s Word in Small Bites
Fr. Dino’s homily
Homily for the First Sunday in Advent, December 3, 2023
To live this Advent Season and the rest of our life on earth in a spiritually profitable fashion, we ought to exercise true vigilance by living 24/7 focused on finding clear signs of Christ’s loving presence in our midst.
The more signs we find of Jesus’ presence the more we will be able to tackle even the most daunting challenges and trials of life with Christian confidence and JOY.
You have heard countless times that, during Advent, we are preparing for “the coming of Christ.”
However, as it is commonly understood by most people, this thought would be a cause of distress because it implies that Jesus is far from us; seated at “the right hand of the Father” in heaven. Furthermore, this thought would make us very apprehensive because we are not ready for his return.
Lest our vigilance proves fruitless and pointless, we must dwell secure on the Lord’s omnipresence as God.
Jesus’ Ascension into heaven at the end of his life on earth marks the fullness of his glorification and the completeness of his assuming again that majesty and power that he had from all eternity as God.
Yet, his glorious presence in heaven does not nullify his promise to remain fully present among us on this earth: And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
The more signs our vigilance discovers to evidence the truth of this promise, the more we should reassure ourselves that his presence among us is truly “enriched” in the sense that his almighty power as God and his infinite love for us are now “enriched” by his direct knowledge of our sorry human condition, acquired while present among us in human form.
Yet, of course, the Lord’s presence among us and in us is often obscured by an array of screens and barriers which on the one hand mislead us and, on the other, rob us of some, or a lot, of the JOY that we should have around the clock precisely on account of his closeness.
We share the experience of these “clouds” with the rest of humanity for the situation in which the world finds itself due to the concerted effort by many to push God out of the picture of human events.
Chances are that, as believers, we quickly see the connection between the arrogance combined with foolishness of going it alone, without God, and the sorry condition of this planet.
Hence, that connection dramatically increases the level of our anxiety whenever our vigilance wanes.
To those common clouds we ought to add those originated by problematic situations in our family, parish, workplace, community, and in any other group to which we choose to belong.
Naturally, we also have clouds and shadows obscuring our vision of Jesus’ presence on account of our personal troubled history.
The vigilance encouraged by Jesus is designed to help us dispel our apprehension, restlessness, fears, uneasiness, worries, as well as instinctive reactions such as frustrations, harsh judgments, condemnation, utter dejection and, possibly, partial paralysis.
Speaking of vigilance, I think that, in our Country, we have reached the point at which the complacency of the past must be replaced by vigilance, direct engagement and willingness to fight for the Gospel and for God’s Kingdom.
We cannot wait for someone else to change what must be changed and to introduce what must be introduced in the spirit of God’s Kingdom and the Gospel.
If our vigilance if further reduced, we will wake up to discover that this is no more the “Land of the free.”
Due to a warped understanding of tolerance, respect for differences, consideration, and sensitivity; ruled by “the dictatorship of relativism” imposed by those who hold power over us, we are losing, one by one, our God-given rights.
If we want to recover the JOY that we should have as we find more and more signs of Jesus’ presence among us and inside us, we have to open our eyes, read up, watch the news with a Gospel-enlightened mind, and the firm resolve to engage ourselves directly, personally to redress the situation of what was formerly known as “the Land of the free.”
Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways, and harden our hearts so that we fear you not? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage. Isaiah 63:17
This ought to be the prayer which supports our vigilance and props our direct involvement for the Lord to be felt as living again among us.
This is what is commonly referred to as the “second coming of Christ” in glory, at the end of time.
Of course, there is no adding to the glory and to the majesty and to the power that Christ already has.
That second, final coming in glory is all about us, about the Body of Christ which is still experiencing anguish, restlessness, and fear—and is much bruised and hurting.
Our heightened vigilance and direct involvement to soothe those bruises and hurts, will hasten the realization of the perfection and glory the Lord promised for his Body and, thus, fill us already with that JOY which he alone can guarantee for us.