November 25, 2019

Advent I Sunday (Dec 1, 2019) homily

Advent I [A] (Dec 1, 2019) Sunday Homily: One-page Summary(L-19)

Introduction: Today we begin our yearly pilgrimage through the events of our history of salvation starting with the preparation for the birthday celebration of Jesus and ending with the reflection on his glorious “second coming” as judge at the end of the world. We are entering the Advent season. Advent means coming. We are invited to meditate on Jesus’ first coming in history as a baby in Bethlehem, his daily coming into our lives in mystery through the Sacraments, through the Bible and through the worshipping community and finally his Second Coming at the end of the world to reward the just and to punish the wicked. We see the traditional signs of Advent in our Church: violet vestments and hangings, dried flowers or plain green plants and the Advent wreath. These signs remind us that we must prepare for the rebirth of Jesus in our hearts and lives, enabling him to radiate his love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness around us.

Scripture lessons summarized: In the first reading (Is 2:1-5), Isaiah describes his prophetic vision of all nations making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, affirming their Faith in the one true God. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 122), is a joyous hymn originally sung as pilgrims journeyed to the Temple in Jerusalem. They prepare us for our yearly pilgrimage.

In the second reading (Rom13:11-14), Paul exhorts the Roman Christian community to get ready to meet Jesus in his Second Coming by discharging their duties properly and by freeing themselves from their former pagan tendencies toward excessive drinking, sexual promiscuity, jealousy and rivalry. We, too, are challenged to make spiritual preparations for Christ’s birth in our lives.

In today’s Gospel (Mt 24:37-44), Jesus warns us of the urgency of vigilant preparation on our part that we may meet him as our Judge both at the end of our lives on earth and on the day of the Last Judgment when he comes in his glory. Jesus reminds us of how the unrepentant and ill-prepared evil people were destroyed by the flood in the time of Noah and of how a thief would break in and plunder the precious belongings of an ill-prepared house owner. Using the additional examples later, Jesus repeats his warning for us to be vigilant and well-prepared all the time, doing the will of God by loving others.

Life message: We need to be alert and watchful while spiritually preparing for Christmas i) by beginning each day by praying for the strength and power of the Holy Spirit to prepare ourselves for Jesus’ rebirth in our lives. ii) by offering our daily work to God for His glory, iii) by practicing more self-control in resisting our evil habits and inclinations, iv) by seeking reconciliation daily with God and our fellow humans. v) and by asking God’s pardon and forgiveness as we extend our unconditional forgiveness to those who have hurt us and vi) by trying to see the face of Jesus in everyone we meet today and sharing with them Jesus’ sacrificial love, mercy, forgiveness and selfless service.

I ADVENT [A] (Dec 1) Is 2:1-5; Rom 13:11-14; Mt 24:37-44

Advent wreath-1 Advent Wr-2

Homily starter anecdotes # 1: Unheeded warning: Early Sunday morning, June 30, 1974, a hundred young people were dancing to the soul-rock music at Gulliver’s in Port Chester, on the border between New York and Connecticut. Suddenly the place was filled with flames and smoke. In a few minutes 24 were dead, burnt by fire, suffocated by smoke, or crushed in the exit passage by the escaping youngsters. According to the Mayor of Port Chester, the dancing crowd ignored the repeated and frantic warnings given by the band manager when he noticed the smoke. Today’s second reading passes on to us the warnings given by St. Paul, and today’s Gospel gives Jesus’ warning to be vigilant and prepared for his coming as our Judge. (Fr. Kadavil) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

#2: Doomsday paranoia: The Jehovah’s Witnesses frightened gullible followers at least 3 times during the last century with their “end of the world” predictions – in 1914, 1918 and 1974. It was in 1978 that the media flashed the shocking news of the mass suicide of 914 men and women from the U.S.A. They belonged to a doomsday cult called the People’s Temple, in Jonestown, Guyana, and they committed suicide at the command of their paranoid leader, Rev. Warren (Jim) Jones. In 1988, Edgar Whisenant, a NASA engineer, used his mathematical skills to set a date for the return of Jesus. He wrote a book called, 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Take Place in 1988. In the same year Rev. Colin Deal published a book titled Christ Returns By 1988 – 101 Reasons Why. A very popular book in 1989 was 89 Reasons Why the World will End in 1989. It was in 1995 that the landmark apocalyptic thriller novel, Left Behind,(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left_Behind) first of a series of 16 books by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. In chronological order, these are: The Rising, The Regime, The Rapture, Left Behind, Tribulation Force, Nicolae, Soul Harvest, Apollyon, Assassins, The Indwelling, The Mark, Desecration, The Remnant, Armageddon, Glorious Appearing, and Kingdom Come. They were published from 1995 to 2007. Over 62 million copies of the Left Behind series and its related books have been sold, generating $650 million. In October 2005 a big-budget film, Left Behind (https://youtu.be/MUOODCHc-XU)n, based on this novel series, was released and shown in all Evangelical Christian parishes. The film Omega Code, released in October 1999 (in time for the Millennium?), was an independent movie funded by the Trinity Broadcasting Network, the largest Evangelical Christian TV network in the U.S. It was promoted by a team of 2,400 U.S. Evangelical pastors. The plot involves a portrayal of the rapture, when “born again” and “saved” Christians, both alive and dead, are supposed to fly up in the air to meet Jesus on his Second Coming.  Omega Code was rated in the top 10 grossing movies for October 1999. This is how modern man reacts to the end of the world.  Today’s readings remind us that we should be well prepared and always ready to meet Jesus at all times, either at the end of our lives or at the end of the world, whichever comes first, without getting panicky. (Fr. Kadavil) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

#3: Advent wreath and Advent candles: History: One of the most recognizable Catholic symbols of the Advent season is the Advent wreath.  It symbolizes the passage of the four weeks of Advent in the liturgical calendar of the Western Church. The concept of the Advent wreath originated in pre-Christian times when people would gather evergreens and light candles to ward off the darkness of winter and serve as a sign of hope that spring would come. By the 16th century, Catholics in Germany began using the wreath as a sign of Christ’s coming. From there the tradition slowly spread throughout the world as Germans immigrated to various countries. Symbolism of the Wreath: The circular wreath represents the fact that God has no beginning and no end. The evergreen branches stand for everlasting life. Four candles—representing Christ as the light of the world—adorn the wreath. Traditionally, three of the candles are purple, a sign of penance. (Sometimes the three candles are blue.) These candles are lit on the first, second and fourth weeks of Advent. On the third week a rose candle is lit. This week is known as “Gaudete” Sunday, Latin for “rejoice.” The rose candle symbolizes joy. (Make sure to check out the priest’s vestments at Mass on this Sunday. They might be rose to match the rose candle that you will be lighting.) In addition to these four candles, many people place a white candle in the center of their Advent wreath. This candle is called the Christ candle and is lit on Christmas Day to represent the birth of Christ. The candles should be lit each day of the appropriate week and for the subsequent weeks. For example, during the third week you will light two purple candles and the rose one. ( https://www.franciscanmedia.org/advent-wreath-a-popular-symbol/)

Introduction: The readings in the early Sundays of Advent always carry forward the “end of the world” theme from the last Sundays of the previous year, the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, and the Feast of Christ the King, the 34th and final Sunday of the Liturgical year. This links each ending year with the approaching one. 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. Today we begin our yearly re-enactment of the drama of our salvation, starting with the mystery of the Incarnation (Christmas) and culminating in the celebration of Christ’s ultimate victory (Christ the King). It is our yearly pilgrimage through the scenes and events of our history of salvation. Advent is a time for looking both backward and forward.  We look backward as we prepare to celebrate the historical birth of Jesus. At the same time, we look forward to his Second Coming, as we prepare ourselves to welcome him into all areas of our lives during the Advent season.  In the Eucharistic Acclamation we profess our faith in Jesus’ Second Coming: “We proclaim Your Death, O Lord, and profess Your Resurrection until You come again”; and in the Creed we proclaim our belief that “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.” One Bible scholar has estimated that there are 1,845 references to Christ’s second coming in the Old Testament and 318 references in the New Testament. We see the traditional signs of Advent in our Church: violet vestments and hangings, no flowers, only green plants in the Sanctuary, and the Advent wreath. We light a candle on this wreath each Sunday until all four are lit.   These signs remind us that we are waiting for the rebirth of Jesus in our hearts and lives in love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness. Let us remember that Advent is at once a celebration of the Christ who was, who is and always will be. In other words, Christ has come once, he will come again; indeed, he has never left, but is continually present in his Church.

The first reading, Isaiah (2:1-5) explained: Isaiah reports his prophetic vision of all nations gathering on Mount Zion, as described also by Micah (4:1-3), using the image of pilgrimage. The prophet looks forward to the time when the Covenant between God and His people will be extended to all people, and the Temple in Jerusalem will be the worshipping place for all mankind, so that all may live in peace and harmony with God and their fellow-humans. In the late eighth century BC, God’s people were already divided into a northern kingdom called Israel, and a southern kingdom known as Judah.  Israel had fallen under Assyrian rule, while Judah and its capital Jerusalem were in danger of being conquered by Babylon.  In the vision of Isaiah, however, Judah is shown as the place to which all nations will come for “instructions in righteous living.” (Zion in Jerusalem was the holy mountain where Solomon’s Temple had stood).  The result will be universal peace.  The Lord will mediate all disputes among nations, and “they shall beat their swords into plowshares.” The prophet reveals to his audience the radical notion that God might love other nations in addition to Judah. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 122) is a joyous hymn originally meant to be sung as pilgrims journeyed to Jerusalem, the site of the Temple, the dwelling place of God on earth. As we sing the Psalm today, it invites us to look longingly toward Christmas, the feast that celebrates the Incarnation of God among us.

The second reading (Romans 13:11-14) explained: In this reading, Paul’s exhortation to the Roman Christians shows them, and us, how to bring about Isaiah’s vision of peace. Because of its concentration on the Parousia, or the Second Coming of Jesus, the Christian community was neglecting its actual day-to-day duties. The Jewish Christians among them lived according to the Law of Moses, a moral code which even pagans admired.  But the Gentile Christians were not yet fully free from the “orgies, drunkenness, promiscuity and lust” of their pagan days.  Hence, Paul advises them: “Conduct yourselves properly.” He warns them against “orgies and drunkenness…promiscuity and lust.” He condemns their “rivalry and jealousy” and advises them to get ready to meet Jesus at his Second Coming.  Paul believes that Jesus’ Second Coming will be a day of salvation only for those who are already acting in a proper manner. We, too, must act as pilgrims, entering wholeheartedly into our yearly pilgrimage through salvation history, leaving behind whatever might hinder our progress, and accepting whatever hardships our journey might entail.

Gospel exegesis: The context: Matthew’s audience was mostly made up of Jewish converts to Christianity. These Christians were ridiculed and ostracized by their Jewish friends who had not accepted Christ as the Messiah, and they wondered why some Jews were selected to become Christians and others not. To clear their doubts, Matthew quotes Jesus in today’s Gospel, suggesting the apparently arbitrary nature of the election on the last day. Just as at the time of the Deluge, Noah and his small family were spared while others perished, so shall it be at “the end.” The emphasis on the unpredictability of election may have helped Matthew’s Jewish Christian audience to deal with the fact that many of their fellow-Christians were recently despised Gentiles. This apocalyptic section of Matthew’s Gospel begins with Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of the Temple, and goes on to Christ’s   Second Coming, and the signs preceding both.  Jesus answers the disciples by giving them signs of the end of the age (24:3-8), foretelling persecutions (24:9-14), and recalling the sacrilege prophesied by Daniel (24:15-28).  Jesus also tells the Parable of the Barren Fig Tree (24:32-35), in which he warns his disciples to be alert and prepared.

The need for preparedness: The consistent warning in today’s Gospel text is that we should be prepared for the coming of the master.  Our text indicates that the end will seem to be a peaceful and normal time, with people eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, and working in their homes or businesses.  In this routine normal life, it might be easy to forget the “coming of the Son of Man.”   In a reference to the story of Noah, Jesus says that the sin of the people was placing too much emphasis on the normal cares and necessities of life.  They were too concerned with eating and drinking – just as we are during the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays.  Jesus reminds us that there is something more important than feasts or weddings: the Son of Man will come to us unexpectedly, either at our death or at the end of the world, and that could be at any moment.   Since God will show up without an appointment, we must be prepared at all times.

The “Rapture.” The reading from Romans contains a disputed reference to the so-called “rapture,” an event in which, it is supposed, some people will be taken up from life on earth directly into the air to meet the returning Christ.  This concept of “dispensationalism,” proposed by Rev. Nelson Darby an Irish Anglican lawyer-pastor in A.D. 1800, is a misinterpretation, however.   The belief in the Rapture is rooted in the fourth and fifth chapters of 1 Thessalonians, which are placed into an elaborate chronology of “end-time” events based on other passages from Revelation, Daniel, and Matthew 24. In this scheme, the Rapture was called the “day of the Lord” which would come like “a thief in the night” (1 Thess. 5:2). After this secret removal of believers would come the rise of the Antichrist and the placement of the “Mark of the Beast” on his followers during seven years of Tribulation. At the end of those seven years, the second coming of Christ and Armageddon, the final battle between good and evil, would take place. The passage in Matthew (24:40-41), does, indeed, talk about some people being “taken” and some being “left behind,” but the word for “taken” (paralambanomai) means, not “to go up” but rather “to go along with.”  It isn’t a magical word about the “born again and saved” people floating up in the air as many of our Protestant brothers believe. It is much more like Jesus’ words to the apostles by the Sea of Galilee: “follow me” or “come along with me.”

We need to be alert even while we work: The man working in the field and the woman working at the mill will be “left”, because they won’t leave their work.  True enough – work is important.  We need to provide food and shelter for ourselves and our families.  But there is something more important than our work: the coming of the Son of Man. God will arrive unexpectedly. We don’t know when a thief might break into our house, so we are prepared for him at all times.  We lock our doors and windows.  We leave a light on when we’re gone. We put in an alarm system. We insure our possessions.  We do these things now because a thief could come at some unknown time.  Hence, especially during this busy Christmas season, we must keep our daily life centered on Christ.

How do we prepare for the unexpected coming of the Son of Man?  In Jesus’ parable, we have an example of the proper and improper methods of waiting.  The faithful slave who, with sincerity and good management, has faithfully carried out his master’s instructions to ensure the welfare of his fellow-slaves (20:26-27), is always ready for his master’s coming. In contrast, the wicked servant is primarily concerned with power, food and drink.  The master is the image for Jesus.   To be prepared for his coming (Matt. 24:3, 36-43), we must be obedient to the Divine will, which means that our actions must serve the community.  The question we might ask is: “Am I being faithful and wise in caring for others while waiting for Christ’s return?”  The text reminds us that our preparation for the Incarnation of our Lord is only one aspect of our Advent preparation, and not necessarily the most important.  Let us remind ourselves of our need to be prepared for our Lord’s return in judgment without “doomsday paranoia” on the one hand or complacency on the other.

Life messages:  1) We need to be alert and watchful while spiritually preparing for Christmas i) by beginning each day by praying for the strength and power of the Holy Spirit to prepare ourselves for Jesus’ rebirth in our lives. ii) by offering our daily work to God for His glory, iii) by practicing more self-control in resisting our evil habits and inclinations, iv) by seeking reconciliation daily with God and our fellow humans. v) and by asking God’s pardon and forgiveness as we extend our unconditional forgiveness to those who have hurt us and vi) by trying to see the face of Jesus in everyone we meet today and sharing with them Jesus’ sacrificial love, mercy, forgiveness and selfless service.

2) We need to have an Advent project to become alert and watchful in the spirit of today’s Gospel.  Every morning when we get up, let us pray, “Lord, show me someone today with whom I may share your love, mercy and forgiveness.”  St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa), once said, “Whatever you do in your family, for your children, for your husband, for your wife, you do for Jesus.”  Every night when we go to bed, let us ask ourselves, “Where have I found Christ today?”  The answer will be God’s Advent gift to us that day. By being alert and watchful, we’ll be getting an extra gift:  Christ himself.  There is a saying about being saved which goes back to St. Thomas Aquinas: “Without God, I can’t.  Without me, He won’t.”

2) We need to be wakeful and watchful: We are so future-oriented that we frequently forget the present entirely.  We spend too much time trying to protect ourselves against future misfortunes.  We save for a rainy day, to get married, to buy a home, to send the children to college, to retire in comfort and to protect ourselves against future misfortunes with varieties of insurance.  But we need to be more spiritually wakeful to prepare for our eternal life.  Let us make this Advent season the time of such preparation.

JOKE OF THE WEEK: #1: Shirt over the wings: Grandma Martha was scolding her little grandson on his failure to go to church on a Sunday. “You will never get into Heaven the way you are going today,” she told him. “Well, Granny, the reason that I don’t go is I got a problem. I can’t for the life of me figure how I’m gonna get my shirt on over those wings I’ll have on my way to Heaven.” “Never mind about shirts,” said the grandma. “The question in your case is how are you gonna get your hat on over those horns which the bad boys get when they are taken to hell?”

#2: End of the World News Reactions: God finally had had enough and decided to end the world. However, He wanted to warn the people. He decided to call the three most influential people of the world.  He therefore summoned Donald Trump, Xi Jinping (President of China), and Bill Gates into one room and told them of His plan and asked them to go out and inform the world. President Trump immediately appeared on CNN news and told the U.S., “I have good news and bad news.  The good news is that God congratulated me for standing for religious and moral principles.  The bad news is that He is going to end the world and I won’t be able to win my second term and bring back full prosperity to our country.” Jiang Zemin went to the Communist network and told his people: “I have bad news and worse news.  The bad news is that, despite what we have taught all these years, there IS a God. The worse news is that He is upset.  He is about to end the world.” Bill Gates turned to the Internet and informed the world: “I have good news and better news…  The good news is that God thinks I am one of the three most influential people on earth… The better news is that Microsoft need not upgrade its WINDOWS anymore.

3) Search Google: One Sunday after Church, a mother was talking to her young daughter. She told her daughter that, according to the Bible, Jesus will return to earth someday. “When is he coming back?” the daughter asked. “I don’t know,” replied the mother. “Can’t you look it up on the Internet?” the little girl asked. [Jeff Totten, “The Lord’s Laughter,” Joyful Noiseletter (Jan. 2004), p. 2.]

USEFUL WEBSITES OF THE WEEK:

1)    Children’s sermons: http://www.rockies.net/~spirit/sermons/s-children.php

2) Catholics in Action: http://catholic.org/

3) Catholic Search Engine: http://www.everythingcatholic.com/1024/default.asp

4) Resources: www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-resources/advent/index.cfm

5) USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/jeD46G-Be5I?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DAAsw34PxZGDqnI_bBKNWa9

6) Pope Benedict on Advent: http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/homilies/2009/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20091128_vespri-avvento.html

6) Fr. Geoffrey Plant’s Advent I Sunday Scripture video: https://youtu.be/fRvDmUAD_wM 

Image result for graphic head Where are the pictures? The pictures are not given in this website- edition because of the new copy-right regulations. However, if you would like to have pictures, please click on https://cbci.in/SundayReflectionsNew.aspx?&id=cG2JDo4P6qU=&type=text uploaded at the end of the week, or my emailed homilies. Fr. Tony

22 Additional anecdotes

1) Cry the Beloved Country: Alan Paton was a South African writer. Among the books he wrote was the haunting story, Cry the Beloved Country, which poignantly described the situation in South Africa under apartheid. Paton had a dream. He dreamt of a new day for his beloved South Africa, a day in which there would be justice and equality for all. For this reason, he entered politics, and fought to end the iniquitous system of apartheid. For decades, he followed his dream and worked generously and courageously to make it a reality. It was a dream that many said would not be realized. Yet it was, though unfortunately Paton did not live to see it. He died before the dawn. The prophet Isaiah had an even bolder dream, a prophetic vision of universal brotherhood and peace. Isaiah’s vision was a splendid one. It would only be realized by the coming of the Lord Jesus. (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies). (Fr. Kadavil) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

2) Left Behind: (https://youtu.be/2jhMj5vCtrA) The scene is the interior of a Boeing 747 in the wee hours of morning. The plane is somewhere over the Atlantic en route to London. The captain leaves his cockpit and strolls down the aisle intending to flirt with the senior flight attendant. She is in shock. People are missing. They have vanished, leaving shoes, socks, clothes, jewelry-everything behind. An elderly lady, sitting in first class, cries as she holds her husband’s sweater and pants. She has been left behind. (V 40: Two men will be in the field, one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill, one will be taken and the other left. ) So begins Left Behind, the first novel of the immensely popular fiction series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Sixteen volumes are now on the market with 62 million copies sold for $650 million, along with a movie, web site, calendar, and survivor kits for children and youth. Tyndale publishers tripled their company’s profits in two years. But the truth is that Left Behind is fiction, not fact. It has more to do with finances than faith. Its miracle lies in its marketing, not its theology. The Rapture, on which the whole series is built, is the remote idea that believers will somehow be caught up in the clouds with Jesus to avoid the great persecution spreading over the earth. Matthew knows nothing about “rapture.” He passes on Jesus’ message about end-times. Just read the text. In Verse 36 we read, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Who of us is smarter than Jesus? Jesus didn’t even know. Why should we try to second guess the Savior? (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-schaeffer/end-times-election-result_b_777865.html) (Fr. Kadavil) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/

3) The Judgment Day: President John F. Kennedy was very fond of a particular story which he often used to close his speeches during his 1960 presidential campaign. It is the story of Colonel Davenport, Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives back in the year 1789.  One day, while the House was in session, the sky of Hartford suddenly grew dark and gloomy. Some of the Evangelical House representatives looked out the windows and thought this was a sign that the end of the world had come.  Uproar ensued, with the representatives calling for immediate adjournment.  But Davenport rose and said, “Gentlemen, the Day of Judgment is either approaching or it is not.  If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment.  If it is, I choose to be found doing my duty.  Therefore, I wish that candles be brought.”  Candles were brought and the session continued. Today’s readings contain the same message: we always need to be prepared to receive Jesus at his second coming by accepting him now as our personal savior and doing now what he has commanded us to do.(Fr. Kadavil) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

4) Additional end-time predictions: People have been predicting the end of the world since the first century. St. Paul thought Christ would return in his lifetime. Hippolytus, one of the early philosophers, predicted Christ would return in 500 A.D. In 960, German theologian, Bernard of Thuringia, calculated the end of the world would come in 992. Some were so sure the world was going to end in 1000 A.D. that they did not bother to plant crops. Astrologer, Johann Stoffler, said the world would be flooded on February 20, 1524. Solomon Eccles, in 1665, ran through the streets of London carrying blazing sulfur on his head announcing that the world was going to go up in flames within the year. In 1874, Charles Russell, founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, concluded that Christ had already returned, but people would have another forty years of grace. In 1914, the denomination was forced to revise its timetable. Herbert Armstrong, in his publication, Plain Truth, set the date for the end of the world as January 7, 1972. The Year 2000, and more specifically, the projected Y2K computer problem, caused many to think that the “end was at hand.” Some people made statements such as “a United Nations world-takeover is imminent” and that “Y2K will be the event that they use.” Some even claimed that Jesus spoke of Y2K in His Olivet Discourse, using Luke 21:25 as justification: “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves.”

On September 12th of 2001, a false quotation of the 16th century French astrologer, Nostradamus, spread across the Internet, saying, “Metal birds, striking twin brothers, will mark the end of the world.” The Bible says our times are in God’s hands. We think in minutes. God thinks in millennia. Psalm 90:4 states, “For a thousand years in your sight are like a day.” Martin Luther said in the 1500’s, “We have reached the time of the white horse of the apocalypse; this world can’t last any longer.” On April 3, 1843, one-half million Seventh Day Adventists waited for the end of the world. Some even climbed mountains hoping for a head start to Heaven. Remember the Y2K scare at the turn of the last millennium? (http://www.tnnonline.net/tribnews/paranoia/milmadness/index.html). (Fr. Kadavil) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/

5) More end-time fixations: End-time fixations are not exclusive manifestations of ancient communities. On October 23, 1844, thousands of Christians sold their earthly possessions, dressed in white robes, climbed to the tops of the highest mountains they could find, climbed to the tippy-tops of trees to get even higher, and waited for Jesus to return. They had been told this was the date by William Miller, a farmer from western New York who dabbled in apocalypticism which led him to declare this as the date of Jesus’ return based on his exegesis of the Scriptures. When no one went anywhere but down the mountain, he announced a calculation error. The real date was to be six months later, which also came and went as his followers now went . . . away . . . for good. Jim Jones was another apocalyptic leader. In the 1970s he moved his People’s Temple Full Gospel Church from San Francisco to Guyana, where he could wait for the end-times by creating a community that would live as if the end-times had already occurred. On November 18, 1978, Jim Jones and 911 of his followers ended their wait for the end-times by drinking cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. Other apocalyptic communities, from Mother Ann Lee’s Shakers to John Humphrey Noyes’ Oneida Community, sublimated their end-times energies into crafting Shaker furniture and Oneida silverware, respectively. Jesus’ words to his disciples this morning warn us against such idle speculations or apocalypticism. Apocalypticism can be defined as the learning and lore of sages and scholars concerning the consummation of time, the coming Day of the Lord, the return of the Son of Man.

6) Still more Doomsday bluffing: Anticipating the end of the world in 1975, twenty-four men, women, and children from Grannis, Arkansas, moved into one tiny house and waited there for ten months. The end did not come as they had expected, and they were evicted for not paying their rent. In 1986 a man named Richard Kieninger of Garland, Texas, organized a group of people to survive the calamities of the end of time. On May 5, 2000, Kieninger’s followers planned to witness the last day from a dirt pile. Similarly, in 1525, a German preacher named Stoeffler predicted the end of the world by flood. All of his parishioners built boats and rafts to survive the end. When the flood did not come, they threw Herr Stoeffler into a deep pond. Such was the case on October 22, 1844. The followers of William Miller, a farmer turned preacher, donned white ascension robes and waited on a hilltop for the Second Coming of Christ. When Christ did not come, they adjusted their beliefs and formed what is now known as the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Jesus said that we should not wait by trying to guess the date. Said Jesus, “No one knows, not even the angels of heaven.” He wanted his followers to be ready for the day of the coming of the Lord. He said that we must be ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour we least expect. Jesus’ call is clear. He calls his followers to expect the end to come at any moment. (Fr. Kadavil) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

7) Christ is coming; be prepared: When the bi-partisan 9/11 commission made their final report to Congress, they begin their report with these words. “September 11, was a day of unprecedented shock and suffering in the history of the United States. The nation was unprepared. …. The 9/11 attacks were a shock, but they should not have come as a surprise.” What follows is a long list of warning signs that were generally ignored by the Clinton and Bush administrations in their pursuit of other matters. Things have changed since then. Now the unofficial creed of the American Homeland war on terror is, “Be Vigilant, Be Watchful, and Be Prepared.” We must not be caught off-guard again. There are Christians who approach the coming of Christ the way the government deals with the war on terror. They ring out a danger and they announce a warning. With concern, they say, “You’d better get ready, you’d better watch out, because before you know it Christ will come.” (Fr. Kadavil) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

8) Jesus is the living Lord who will come again: To live by Faith also means we will do what we can to offset the threat of the annihilation of life on earth, first of all, by registering our outrage at the atrocities that war, by itself, inflicts upon people. Not many of us can afford to do what Joan Kroc, the widow of the founder of McDonald’s fast food chain, did just after Memorial Day had been celebrated in 1985. She bought full page advertisements in newspapers and had the following quote from the late former-President Dwight D. Eisenhower printed beside his picture in his military uniform: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children … This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.” Beyond our voiced or written objections to the arms race or the bomb race, it is for us Christians, as the expression of our Faith in God, to do the good works of love and mercy – feeding the hungry, caring for the poor, telling people the Good News in Jesus Christ – incumbent upon those who believe Jesus is the living Lord who will come again. [George M. Bass, The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown, (CSS Publishing Company, 1986), 0-89536-817-X] (Fr. Kadavil) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/

9) “Does anybody really care?” The musical group, Chicago, recorded a song several years ago asking, “Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?” When it comes to predicting the end of the world, Jesus says, nobody knows what time it is but God, so why should the rest of us try to learn it? (Fr. Kadavil) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/

10) “He’ll find me hoeing cotton when he comes.” There is a beautiful Afro-American Spiritual song about waiting for the Lord’s second coming doing one’s duty faithfully:

There’s a king and a captain high, and he’s coming by and by
And he’ll find me hoeing cotton when he comes.
You can hear his legions charging, the regions of the sky
And he’ll find me hoeing cotton when he comes. (Fr. Kadavil) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/

11) Saints and end-times: St. Francis, Saint of Nature, was hoeing his garden one day. A philosopher friend approached him and asked, “What would you do if you learned you would die before the sun sets?” St. Francis reflected for a moment and replied, “I would finish hoeing my garden. I would be faithful to what I am doing now.” Bonhoeffer was asked by critics, “Why do you expose yourself to all this danger? Jesus will return any day and all your work and suffering will be for nothing.” Bonhoeffer said, “If Jesus returns tomorrow, then tomorrow I will rest from my labors, but today I have work to do. I must continue the struggle until I am finished.” (Fr. Kadavil) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/

12) Wake up and stay awake: Ever since the attack on the World Trade center in New York on Sept 11, 2001 there have been nonstop warnings to be alert to possible terrorist attacks. In U. S. airports repeated public announcements from Homeland Security advise whether the level of alert is yellow, orange or red. People are asked to be vigilant. Today’s second and third readings want us to move to red alert. Paul wants the Romans to wake up, and Jesus warns us to stay awake. (Sr. Dr. Barbara E. Reid, NT professor at CTU, Chicago). (Fr. Kadavil) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/

13) We ought to look ahead: John Osborne’s novel Look Back in Anger dealt with the disillusionment a man faced in his youth, due to inequality and unfairness in society. Looking back is less popular today; the modern tendency is rather to Look Ahead, and many pundits are happy to forecast our future. — Conservationists, Ecologists, Demographers, City Planners, Sociologists, Actuaries and Life-Insurance agents. All this peering into half-foreseeable social facts is useful, up to a point. As rational people, we ought to look ahead, and make plans for future contingencies. Jeremiah … prophesies that God will fulfill his promise of a Savior. He looks to a time when Judah will enjoy God’s peace and protection because of the birth of “the Lord [Who] is our righteousness.” (Biblical IE). (Fr. Kadavil) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/

14) Waiting for Godot: Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot focuses on two main characters, Vladimir and Estragon. They sit around waiting for the coming of a mysterious person known only as Godot. As they wait for him, they try to recall what their meeting is all about. They know that it is important and that their future depends on Godot’s arrival, but that is all that they can remember. Then two other characters appear on the stage. Vladimir and Estragon are not sure if either one is Godot since they do not know how to recognize him. As the play ends Vladimir and Estragon are left alone on a dark and empty stage, still waiting for Godot to come.  -Today’s liturgy ushers the season of “Advent.” Advent celebrates our Lord’s coming in three ways: first, in past history, when He was born a man; second, in the present time, when He comes at Christmas; third, in the future, when He will return at the end of time. In a sense, this final and future coming of Christ is a process, one that will begin for us personally when we die and time will end for us. For the moment, we are still living in a “meantime,” that is, the time between Christ’s coming in past history to share our humanity and his coming in the future to lead us into glory. Lest our waiting in “meantime” be empty and meaningless, as it seemed to be for Vladimir and Estragon in Beckett’s play, we celebrate an Advent culminating in a Christmas each year to recall why we are waiting and whom we are awaiting. Another purpose of Advent is to instruct us how to recognize the Lord’s coming – in the duties we carry out, or the things that happen to us, or in the people we meet. During Advent we have to discipline ourselves to see Christ in everyone and in every situation. Our waiting then will not be one of frustration, but rather one of readiness and anticipation. (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (Fr. Kadavil) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/

15) Be Awake: A man came to Buddha and asked him, “Tell me Buddha, are you a God?” “No, I am not a god.” “Are you an angel?” “No, I am not.” “Are you a prophet?” “No, not a prophet either.”  “What are you then?” Whereupon Buddha answered. “I am awake.” – Most of us are not awake. We are always in slumber. We are not aware of our own thoughts, feelings and actions. We function most of the time, like an automaton. The enlightened are those who are aware and awake. (G. Francis Xavier in Inspiring Stories; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (Fr. Kadavil) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/

16) “They have plenty of time.” Student devils were being dispatched to the earth to finish their training. Satan interviewed them. To the first: “How will you operate?” Said he: “I will instruct people God does not exist.” The Devil shook his head: “Most know our Enemy exists.” The next said: “I will argue Hell does not exist.” Satan was annoyed: “After millions of abortions, people know Hell exists.” The last said: “I will tell all they have plenty of time.” Satan beamed: “Good woman. Do that and you’ll bring people down here by the billions. Why can’t these male devils be as clever as you.?” (Adapted from Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis). (Fr. Kadavil) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/

17) Wake-up call: God’s wake-up call can come to people in different ways and will mean different things to different people. In Mexico in the diocese of Bishop Samuel Ruiz almost 80% of the population was indigenous. The Bishop has become known as “the defender of the Indians.” But it wasn’t always like that. In a talk given in Westminster Cathedral in Lent 1996, Bishop Ruiz said: “For twenty years I was like a sleeping fish. I had my eyes open but saw nothing. I was just proud to be in the diocese where the churches were crowded. Then one day I saw an Indian tied to a tree being whipped by his boss, because he had refused to work an extra eight hours.” That incident opened the bishop’s eyes and he began to look. What he saw being done to his people spurred him into action. He got involved in negotiations with the Zapato rebels and the Mexican government. One of the phrases we often use is “It dawned on me.” In this way we recognize that it is not enough to be physically awake. We need to be awake socially, morally and spiritually. (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies). (Fr. Kadavil) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/

18) When did you last sharpen your life? There was this very strong woodcutter who asked for a job with a timber merchant and got it. The wages the timber merchant paid were really good and so were the work conditions. For that reason, the woodcutter was determined to do his best. His boss gave him an axe and showed him the area where he was supposed to work. The first day the woodcutter brought 18 trees. “Congratulations’ the boss said “go on that way.” Very motivated by the words of the boss, the woodcutter tried harder the next day, but he could only bring 15 trees. The third day he tried even harder but brought only 10 trees. Day after day he was bringing less and less trees. “I must be losing my strength,” the woodcutter thought. He went to the boss and apologized, saying he could not understand what was going on. “When was the last time you sharpened your axe? The boss asked. “Sharpen? I had no time to sharpen my axe. I have been very busy trying to cut trees..” – We may have been busy with so many things, we may have neglected our spiritual life. Like the axe that needs sharpening, we also need to sharpen our spirit. Let us sharpen our spirit this Advent by becoming more loving, more prayerful, more compassionate, more generous and more faithful. Life is not about finding yourself! Life is about recreating yourself! Advent is God’s marvelous gift to all of us. Let this season unfold slowly and nicely. (John Pichappilly in The Table of the Lord; quoted by Fr. Botelho).

19) Rearranging Deck Chairs? On the night of April 15, 1912, the Titanic hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank. Over 1,500 people lost their lives in one of the worst sea disasters in history. A few years ago, a magazine recalled the great disaster and asked its readers this shocking – almost blasphemous – question: “If we’d been on the Titanic when it sank, would we have rearranged the deck chairs?” At first we say to ourselves, “What a ridiculous question! No one in his right mind would ignore wailing sirens on a sinking ship and rearrange its deck chairs! No one with an ounce of sanity would ignore the shouts of drowning people and keep rearranging deck chairs!” But as we continue to read the magazine, we see the reason for the strange question. And suddenly we ask ourselves, “Are we, perhaps, rearranging deck chairs on a sinking ship?”   For example, are we so caught up with material things in life that we are giving a backseat to spiritual things? Are we so busy making a living that we are forgetting the purpose of life? Are we so taken up with life that we are forgetting why God gave us life? (Mark Link in Sunday Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (Fr. Kadavil) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/

20) Warning of tornados and typhoons. Residents of the southern United States, eastern Mexico and the Caribbean are visited annually by fierce storms called hurricanes. Similar storms generated in the Pacific Ocean are called typhoons. These storms usually occur during the months of June to November and provide an opportunity for residents of these areas to be on a “first-name-basis” (pun intended) with the incredible forces of nature. Because of the development of highly sensitive meteorological instruments, hurricanes (and typhoons) can be detected at their point of origin and tracked with an astonishing degree of accuracy. Consequently, residents in the path of the storm can be forewarned; this enables them to make the necessary preparations which include boarding up windows, mooring boats, stocking up on water, batteries, and non-perishable foods and, –in the event that a strong storm is expected to make land fall nearby–, to evacuate the area. In spite of the fact that they have been duly warned of the impending danger, there are always a few who literally throw caution to the wind and ignore the advice given them. Others flaunt a cavalier attitude and claim that they can “ride out” the storm. Needless to say, some of these daring individuals have proven to be no match for the storm and have perished during its onslaught. Evidently there were some in Jesus’ day, as well as in the primordial days of Noah who were similarly unimpressed and unresponsive to warnings concerning divine intervention. Because of this, they were ill-prepared and therefore susceptible to harsh judgment. In today’s Gospel, believers are given fair warning. Unlike a storm which can be predicted and tracked, and unlike the shopping days left before Christmas which can be subjected to a countdown, the Son of Man will appear unannounced and unexpected. The only antidote to this realization is to live in a constant state of preparedness, alert to his overtures, mindful of his challenges, aware and responsive to his daily calls to discipleship. (Sanchez Files). (Fr. Kadavil) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/L/19

21) “Pick up and read” Nobody acquainted with the life of St. Augustine of Hippo can hear today’s second reading without thinking of him. This was the passage that changed his life: “Let us cast off deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us live honorably…not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual excess and lust, not in quarreling and jealousies. Rather, put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Augustine, you will recall, was a Roman native of Northern Africa, the son of a pagan father and the devout Christian mother whom we venerate as St. Monica. To the grief of his mother, her brilliant son grew up more heathen than Christian. He became an expert in public speaking, teaching that subject both in Africa and in Italy. But he also fell into heretical ways of thinking and pagan ways of living. Monica found that her warnings were ineffectual, so she fell back on prayer. Her prayers were long unanswered, but she kept right on. As a matter of fact, Augustine was more of a Christian than he himself realized. As he grew older, he found that his heretical friends did not have all the answers; and that his lust enslaved rather than liberated him. More and more he became convinced that the gospel was true. But the cravings of the flesh held him back from an act of faith. He prayed to God “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet!” Then one day in the year 386, as he sat weeping over the problem in his garden in Milan, he heard over the wall the singsong of a child. “Pick up and read, pick up and read”. It was such a strange song that he took it as a hint. A copy lay there of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. He picked it up and his eyes fell on the passage quoted above. As he read it, God’s grace flooded his soul. Suddenly he felt no more shackled by his sexual drives. To Monica’s great joy he accepted baptism. As we know, he went on to become a priest, a bishop and one of the greatest Christian theologians of all time. The words of the Scriptures are so familiar to us that too often we ignore their message. During this Advent, why not read them or listen to them with fuller attention? The Holy Spirit may have picked out a passage there that could change our lives. (Fr. Robert F. McNamara)

22) Jesse Tree Overview: The Jesse Tree dates back to the middle ages and came from Europe. Even some ancient cathedrals have Jesse Tree designs in their stained-glass windows. The “tree” is usually a branch or sapling and is decorated with various symbols that remind us of the purpose and promises of God from Creation to the Birth of Jesus Christ. Jesse was the father of King David and God promised David that his Kingdom would last forever. Two centuries after the death of King David, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah and said: And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots: and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:1-2). Each Jesse Tree ornament usually consists of a handmade symbol or drawing that represents one of the major stories of the Old Testament along with a brief verse of Scripture from that story. (Catholic Culture.org).

clip_image001 “Scriptural Homilies” Cycle A (No. 1) by Fr. Tony: akadavil@gmail.com

Visit my website: By clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/ (or using Google Search) for missed or previous Cycle C homilies, 141 Year of Faith“ Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at Where are the akadavil@gmail.com. Click on http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html for the Vatican version of this homily and  the CBCI website https://cbci.in/SundayReflectionsNew.aspx?&id=cG2JDo4P6qU=&type=text. for a full version Or https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies  under Fr. Tony or under CBCI for my website version. (Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604).

Image result for graphic head Where are the pictures for Advent I? The pictures are not given in this website- edition because of the new copy-right regulations. However, if you would like to have pictures, please click on https://cbci.in/SundayReflectionsNew.aspx?&id=cG2JDo4P6qU=&type=text uploaded at the end of the week, or my emailed homilies. Fr. Tony