Sunday Homily Advent01C

Hope in God’s promises

First Sunday of Advent CycleC

[Jer 33:14-16; 1 Thess 3:12-4:2; Lk 21:25-28, 34-36]


History of salvation has been very dynamic. It has moved forward with a promise and the consequent hope, and the fulfillment of the promise.

Today we begin the season of advent. The reminder of the greatest promise in the history of salvation - The promise of a Saviour.

A glance through the history Salvation takes us back to the Paradise. Out of the infinite plan of God was born the mysterious world and its master, the man. God’s promises begin from there. The first man was promised a partner “EVE”. Abraham was given the promise of uncountable descendants. The Israelites in Egypt were given the promise of a mediator to lead them out of their misery. The wandering Israelites were promised a land flowing with milk and honey. When they were settled down they were promised a King, and a temple to worship God. And the promises continue and the history of salvation becomes more dynamic and progressive.

In today’s first reading Prophet Jeremiah reminds the people about the great promise of God, the promise of a virtuous man from the house of David, who will bring honesty and integrity to the land and liberation to the house of David. In the second reading St Paul reminds us to continue the blameless life initiated by Jesus, so that we will be ready for the second advent , the Glorious coming of Jesus, which is the theme of Today’s Gospel. The Gospel proclaims the promise of Jesus, the coming of the Son of Man in all His glory.

The season of Advent helps us to recall the promise of a righteous man to establish integrity and honesty, as prophesied by prophet Jeremiah, the fulfillment of this promise in the person of Jesus, and prepares us for the second coming of Jesus.

The factors that lead our fore fathers were faith in the promise of God, and hope in its fulfillment. Israelites’ hope helped them to cross deserts and Traverse Mountains. Abraham’s hope made him the father of a great race. Joab’s hope strengthened him to suffer his misfortunes. The hope of early Christians gave them courage to withstand persecution.

Dear brothers and sisters, it is hope that lead us also forward. Keats wrote “heard melodies are sweet, those unheard are sweeter.” Our hope and the pleasant waiting for something make our lives too sweeter.

When we are beset with the contemporary problems of injustice, inhuman misery, hunger and poverty it is our “hope” - hope in the promise of prophets, hope in the promise of Jesus, hope in the coming of Jesus into our lives that should lead us forward.

O Henry’s story the “Last Leaf” brings out the significance of hope.

The story begins as Johnsy, near death from pneumonia, lies in bed waiting for the last leaf of an ivy vine on the brick wall she spies through her window to fall. She counted the falling of all leaves. Now only the last one is left. She is sure that that she will die as the last leaf falls.

The night witnessed torrential rain and powerful storm. Morning Johnsy looked out of the window before breathing her last. But to her surprise she saw that the last leaf survived the rain and wind. It stuck to the vine. She began to show signs of improvement and recovered in a few days.

An artist who lived below her apartment understood the thought of Johnsy. That night he went out with his set of brush and paint. The last leaf was the creation of Behrman. Outside Johnsy’s window were a ladder, a lantern still lighted "some scattered brushes, and a palette with green and yellow colors mixed on it . . . it was Behrman’s masterpiece--he painted it [a leaf] there the night that the last leaf fell."

The sight of the last leaf rekindled the hope of Johnsy. And she survived.

Dear friends, The wisdom of our forefathers reminds us that “every cloud has a silver lining”, every night is followed by a bright day. At the end of every sorrow there some joy awaiting us. I recall the words of Shelley, “If winter comes can spring be far behind?”

I conclude with the words of St. Paul " suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us.”

Satish

Sunday Reflections


Reflections on Sunday Readings by Satish, Kattakada, Trivandrum, Kerala, India (now in Dubai), will be available on this blog. Advent onwards.

Gratitude

Gratitude does not come naturally to many of us.

Before the favour can be done for us, we are willing to do anything for the person who can do us that favour. However, often once the favour has been done, we forget to thank.

While the person concerned might not expect any thanks from us, it is our responsibility to acknowledge our gratitude by our thanks.

Success


The responses to what the Lord has entrusted to the care of each one of us has a decisive role in the future of each of us.

All that we have is given to us in trust including the gift of life itself and we will be called to account for what has been given. There is thus no “safe” position.

The only road to success is to take risks.

Exploitation

Traditionally we have read the Widow's Mite story as a story about boundless generosity and self-sacrifice. But we should first read it in the context in which Mark (12:38-44) wrote it, as a tragic evidence of the religious exploitation for which Jesus condemned the Temple religious establishment.

Before reading the story as a model to encourage generosity to organized religion we need to read it first as a condemnation of the use of religion to exploit simple, suffering and powerless humanity.

Jesus is teaching in the Temple. He has just condemned the unscrupulous scribes who devour widows' property under the pretext of religious fervour. Then he looks up and sees this widow putting "everything she had, her whole living" into the treasury and he points to her and says, "See what I mean?"

The scribes never literally robbed widows' houses. But by their teaching they exploited widows by persuading them in their privation to give up even the very little they had.

The Steward (Luke 16:1-13)

This parable (vv.1-8) is fraught with difficulties, for any read it as if Jesus is extolling dishonesty. But Jesus, in fact, does brand the steward as dishonest, which the aster had discovered even before the man had begun his re-adjustment campaign (vv 1-2). Hence, it is not for that early dishonest – perhaps mismanagement of the master’s property – that the steward is praised. Rather, for his subsequent action is a critical situation.

What the steward does here is to re-adjust the bond, so that the capital of the master is left intact but the commission or interest is cancelled. This commission or interest would be to the profit of the steward. So he forgoes his profits with an eye to receiving future favours from his co-workers (vv 3-4). It is for his ‘astuteness’ – that is, for his quick decisiveness and prudence in a critical situation, with an eye to his future – that Jesus praises him.

This parable is applied by Luke (vv 8b-13) to instruct his Christians on the prudent and wise use of material wealth and possessions. The coming of Jesus is a time f ‘crisis’, when each one of us is to give an account of how we have used the master’s money. First of all, the wealth and the possessions we have are not just our own; they are gifts entrusted to us by God.

In response to the Master’s coming and his call to accountability, we should be equally astute in the use of these for our eternal security as the steward was for his earthly security. Wealth can easily be deified, and we can find it tough to decide between God and wealth (v 13). We should use it to make friends for our eternal reward.