JOYFUL WAITING HOMILY FOR THE 3RD SUNDAY OF ADVENT (YEAR A) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem PhD

 

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Within the Second Week of Advent I had two different encounters though with one common denominator. Firstly, the leader of the children prayer group in my Church approached me after Mass to inform me that the group had planned to commence Christmas Carol the next day (Monday evening). I was silent for a while and I believe he wondered why! I later asked him a very simple question and he gave me a very simple rely. My question was “what songs would the group be rendering as they go for the carol?” And he answered and said “Christmas songs”. Next I asked if it was Christmas already and he said no! Then I told him that it will be out of place to be singing Christmas songs when Christmas is still weeks away (there are Advent songs anyway).

The next experience took place on the Facebook platform. A good friend of mine posted some pictures depicting Christmas with some yuletide words wishing his friends a very blissful Christmas. As usual there were comments in praise of the pictures and in appreciation to him. I wrote my own comment but it was different from others. For the sake of precision I wrote:

 Christmas is being too commercialized and I believe we have to be the conscience of this celebration. To my mind we should focus more on the advent with the prerequisites and frameworks it presents for the celebration of Christmas. At this point in retrospect, Mother Mary is still pregnant Jesus is not yet born we should at this time be apt in making room for him.

Summarily I advised not only him but all who would read through to be conscious of the fact that Christmas is yet to come and that we should not drift with the commercialization that has been attached to the Christian festival. The next thing I saw was an inbox message from my friend telling me that he was not happy with my comment. I was actually trying to reply him to tell him not to take it personal when I discovered he had unfriended (or blocked) me from his Facebook contacts.

I really will not blame my friend (I hope he still sees me as one) nor do I blame the leader of the children’s prayer group in my Church for the clamour for Christmas when the Advent was still at its nascent stage. It is unfortunately the commercial agenda set by the world which has been affecting chritendom so much especially with the growth and prevalence of the conventional and new media. One of the fall-outs of this is that only a very few people remember that the Advent period precedes the Christmas and must be actively attended to.

Today the message presents so much joy as we await the coming of the Lord. The First Reading tells us about the implantation and celebration of great joy in unusual places as well as the reversal of ill situations. Specifically we hear the prophet assuring us of gladness in the wilderness, dry land and desert. Now these unproductive places (wilderness, dry land, and desert) represent us and our circumstances.

Our disobedience and disconnection from God made us as unproductive as the wilderness, dry land and the desert (Psalm 68:6b). Like our Lord would say in the gospel of John (15:5) cut off from God we can do nothing. In our wilderness, in our dry conditions, in our desert places, we are obviously helpless. But with the oracle of Isaiah we have been asked to be glad because of the assurances of change in our condition. The nature of this change is also presented by the prophet. Weak hands will be strengthened, the blind eyes will be opened, deaf ears will hear, the lame will jump like the deer and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy. In fact the entire oracle of Isaiah in the first reading is filled with joy; actually we can locate about six indications of joy and gladness put together.

All the above mentioned changes are going to take place at a particular time; specifically at the coming of the Lord. It is based on this that St. James in the Second Reading admonished us to be patience and wait for that time to come. To make the fact more comprehensible he established that a farmer waits patiently for what he had sown to receive both the early and later rains before maturity and eventual harvest. In the same way he admonished that we should patiently establish our hearts as we await the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.   

Waiting is one exercise that goes with so much boredom. Personally, I detest waiting and that explains why I would prefer to take a longer moving motorway to a shorter one with heavy vehicular traffic. There should actually be very few people in the world who just love to wait! It really does not matter whether we love to wait or not because life is basically punctuated with so much waiting. We all waited for months in the womb before we were born. We wait to grow to mature and to transit from childhood to adulthood; in fact waiting is part of our humanity.

In John the Baptist we have a typical example of one who was deeply involved in preparing and waiting for the coming of the Lord. The prophet was so absolved and consumed in the first ever Advent that he was overwhelmed when finally the Lord came. Like people of his day and age he could have been looking forward to a great man with all the external qualities of worldly greatness man but our Lord took to a humble beginning. The evidence of his arrival was not to be seen in material possessions but in ponderable salutary works: the blind see, the lame walk, lepers cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the poor receive the good news; a confirmation of the oracle of Isaiah in the First Reading.

There is no way we can make a rightful Christmas without a well-articulated Advent. So many people seem to put the Christmas before the Advent and this is an acute misplacement of values and priorities. The joy we are asked to express on this day is not on account of the materials we have been able to accumulate, but on account of the fact that the Lord will soon be born in our hearts which we ought to have made ready for him. The joy that this third Sunday of Advent advocates can be found in the legendry song of Isaac Watt (1719):

 

Joy to the World , the Lord is come!

 Let earth receive her King;

 Let every heart prepare Him room,

 And Heaven and nature sing,

 And Heaven and nature sing,

 And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

 

 Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!

 Let men their songs employ;

 While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains

 Repeat the sounding joy,

 Repeat the sounding joy,

 Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

 

 No more let sins and sorrows grow,

 Nor thorns infest the ground;

 He comes to make His blessings flow

 Far as the curse is found,

 Far as the curse is found,

 Far as, far as, the curse is found.

 

 He rules the world with truth and grace,

 And makes the nations prove

 The glories of His righteousness,

 And wonders of His love,

 And wonders of His love,

 And wonders, wonders, of His love.

 

Have a happy Sunday and a joyful week as we light the 3rd candle.

Fr. Bonnie.

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