THE POWER OF WATCHFUL PREPARATION HOMILY FOR THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT (YEAR A) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

Advent one

A family that lives along a hurricane hotspot in Florida decides to do an emergency evacuation drill to let everyone in the family know what to do and not to do when there is an emergency alert. It was a bit of fun and anxiety as everyone scramble to grab what they need and escape through a ladder by the window and jump into their van after receiving a simulated emergency signal.

Reviewing their general response to the emergency alert, they discovered that some of them left important things behind and took what was not needed. For instance, their dad left his wallet containing his credit cards, driver’s license, and other essential items and took his shaver instead. Their mom took her expensive make-up set but forgot the bag containing all the vital family documents in her care. One of the boys was interested in his skateboard and left his pair of prescription glasses. However, nobody forgot their mobile phones as it has recently become a part of the human body for most people.

One month after the emergency evacuation drill, the family wakes up to a real emergency alert on a fast-moving hurricane heading to their area. Everyone acted fast, leveraging the practice they had in the previous month. Arriving at a safe place outside their city, they stop to check what they grabbed and what they left behind. And it was clear that they picked all the necessary things; one could conclude that they were watchful and prepared for the hurricane. Success often comes when preparation meets opportunity.

The Advent Season invites us to stand firmly on the platform of watchfulness and preparation, not for a deathly hurricane but for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Advent is all about being vigilant and preparing to welcome our Lord Jesus Christ at Christmas. Advent is thus a reaffirmation of God’s demand for preparation. The divine due process tells us about the need for preparation before any activity; in fact, everyone and everything God uses would necessarily pass through the route of preparation.

Before the creation of first human beings, God prepared a garden with edible fruits for their wellbeing (Genesis 1:29). Before the destruction of the world, God prepared Noah to take up the task of saving some humans and animals (Genesis 6:11ff). During the walk in the desert, God would continuously ask Moses to prepare the people before a divine visitation (Exodus 19:10-15). David tells us in the Book of Psalm (23:5a) that God prepares a table before him in the presence of his enemies.

The First Reading today (Isaiah 2:1-5) gives us a preview of what the coming of the Lord would yield in our lives. Mountains are very significant in the bible. Most divine encounters happened on a mountain, for instance, the receiving of the Ten Commandments (Exodus19&20) and the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-13).

The Mountain of the Lord’s house refers to divine presence and authority. Put in another way, it relates to God’s kingdom. In the passage, we read the following, “the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills.” This tells us that there are competing entities that would, however, not match the kingdom of God. Furthermore, the passage reminds us of a line in the Lord’s prayer which says, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

The Advent period prods us to set our minds on the on-coming kingdom of God, which the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ would activate. The passage invites us to pay attention to the Word of God so that He would instruct us in His ways and that we may also walk in his paths and his light. Here we have a snapshot of what the advent demands from us.

Watchfulness happens when there is light

The Second Reading (Romans 13:11-14), and the Gospel Reading (Matthew 24:37-44) bring us back to the importance of watchful preparation. In the Second Reading, St. Paul announces that the night is over and that we should throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Often, when people desire to sleep, they turn off the lights; in fact, lights-out is a way of inviting sleep. On the other hand, turning on the lights indicates that the sleeping time is up.

One cannot achieve proper watchfulness in the dark; you would need light to see. The message in the Second Reading is that as much as we need to be watchful, we should make sure that our light is shining. Our light shines through our detachment from sin and disobedience to God. Our Lord Jesus Christ shows the connection between light and good deeds where he says, “let your light shine before others so that seeing your good works, they may give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

Moving Forward with Watchful Preparation

In the Gospel Reading (Matthew 24:37-44), our Lord Jesus Christ makes a connection between watchfulness and preparation. He uses the story of Noah to illustrate the importance of watchful preparation. At the time, as Noah was watchfully preparing for the flood, the men and women of his time were asleep in the darkness of worldly pleasure until the flood came and carried them away.

Staying awake involves making the proper and necessary preparations; otherwise, it would be useless doing so. One could be awake and do nothing, but anyone who is awake and prepared would do better.

In life, the way you prepare determines the extent you could go. You are as good as how prepared you are; things don’t just happen; there is always some preparation following the process. Preparation is one of the principles of success. The Book of Proverb (24:27) says prepare before you build. Real success is not usually by chance; it is by preparation.

To have a dependable Advent season and with the call for watchful preparation, there would be the need for us to focus on the following preparation tip questions:

  • What are you preparing for? The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, especially in your heart.
  • How are you preparing? By Responding to the call for repentance, listening, and obedience to God.
  • When do you prepare? Now and not later.
  • Where do you prepare? In your heart.
  • Why do you prepare? Why not? If you don’t prepare, you may perish!

Have a graceful First Sunday of Advent, and may God increase your blessings.

Fr. Bonnie.

 

 

 

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