Dec 3, 2007

Homily for the 1st Sunday of ADVENT, Cronulla Parish - 2 December, 2007.

Readings: ISAIAH 2:1-5; ROMANS 13: 11-14; MATTHEW 24:37-44

View the readings


Christmas is a time when people give and receive gifts. The practice dates back to the time of Christ, when the magi brought gifts to Jesus. But what gift can we give to Jesus this Christmas and what gift is Jesus wanting to give us this Christmas.


The "end of the world" is the theme for today’s Mass. It ties in with the theme from last Sunday. Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the ‘Sunday of Hope’ in God and His Son Jesus Christ through whom God has promised to save and redeem his people.


Advent is a time of serious preparation, but it's about far more than preparing to celebrate with trees, cakes, tinsel and lights. In the midst of the busyness of preparing to celebrate our annual feast, the Church calls us to prepare to celebrate the Mass of Christ, for that is what Christmas is. The Mass of Christ is the eternal banquet which occurs in Heaven. The Mass of Christ is what we are participating and celebrating at this very moment.


There is a clothing shop that I saw when I was in London that sells T-shirts with some excellent Christian messages. Particular favourites include "I have found Jesus!" with, in small letters underneath, "he was down the back of the sofa all the time".

And appropriately for the season of Advent, "Jesus is coming! Quick, look busy."


Christmas is a time to give and receive gifts, but how often do people think about giving a gift to Jesus, even though we are celebrating his birthday. Jesus desires that we give him the greatest gift possible– The gift of our very lives. He wants us to love him, to serve him and to build his kingdom in this world, and to desire eternity with him.


In some cultures, and I know in parts of Italy, people do not give gifts to the birthday boy or girl, but the person whose birthday it is, gives gifts to all his or her friends. It is the same with God. God wants to grace us, bless us and give himself to us.


He gave himself to us at the last Supper and on the cross, but his blessings extend beyond the pages of the Scriptures. God is blessing us through our encounters with people in our world, he is in our lives every day, he is here with us this evening and we will receive Christ’s body and blood.


A friend of mine told me that he finds a parking spot around Cronulla shops every time he looks for a spot. May be it is a coincidence, or may be it is God gifting that person with order and peace. God is present in our world. Are we ready and prepared to receive Jesus?[1]


The consistent warning in today’s gospel is that we should be prepared for the coming of the master. The Gospel tells us that the end will not happen with earthquakes and destruction, but the end will occur when things seem peaceful and normal. In the security and peace of day to day life, it is easy to forget that we need God, that we need a Saviour and a protector.


Many people turn towards God only in difficult times, illness, exams, destruction, but God is not a God only for difficult times. God desires a daily relationship and friendship with each and everyone one of us.


In a reference to the story of Noah, today’s Gospel tells us that the people were too concerned with eating and drinking, with too much emphasis on the normal cares and necessities of life.  In many ways we are the same at Christmas and New Year's: we eat, we drink, we worry about decorations, lights on the house, we have fun playing the newest computer games, watching movies, going to the beach, playing backyard cricket, visiting friends and relatives. But Jesus reminds us that there is something more important than feasts or weddings or games: Christ is telling us about eternal life and that we need to be prepared.


Christ is not saying that we should not eat, drink or have fun, but he is saying that we need to be prepared to attend an even greater feast than the Banquet on the 25th of December – we need to be prepared to attend the Feast, the Banquet of Eternal life – Christ’s Mass.

[1] Every night when you go to bed, ask yourself, “Where have I found Christ today?”  The answer will be God’s gift for you that day. By being alert and watchful you’ll be getting an extra gift at Christmas:  You will receive Christ himself.  There is a saying which goes back to St. Thomas Aquinas: "Without God, I can't.  Without me, he won't." Open yourself to Christ, and he will gift you abundantly in this world and in the eternal life to come.

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