Homilies | Posted 07.12.2016

1st Sunday of Advent Homily

“Therefore, you too must stand ready.”    (Matthew 24:44)               1st Advent 27/11/2016

There has been some publicity lately about unmarried mothers of 50 or more years ago.  At that time to have a child out of wedlock was seen as a great disgrace, so the mothers, often young teenage girls, were pushed into handing over their child for adoption; after this the girl would live on as if she had never had a child.   At the time this seemed to be a solution, but it meant that many a woman would yearn to meet her child again, whilst the baby, now adopted, might have very little awareness of their true mother.

As time has moved on, there are different feelings about a meeting between the child, now an adult, and the mother.  In some cases he or she grew up very happily in the adopted family, and to encounter their original mother is an embarrassment and a shock: it disturbs the settled pattern of life that has been achieved over time.  Equally there are a number of mothers who desperately wish to meet their child again, and for some such children, a meeting would satisfy a long felt hunger that they were never able to articulate.   It is peculiar fact of life that some bonds last over decades, whilst others slowly fade away.

The early Christian Church had a great longing to meet her Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.   They were told by their leaders that he was mysteriously still around, but could not be seen, and that they must hold on, because in time he would show himself, and then they would be with him.  The death of their Lord in Jerusalem had been like a violent separation: they yearned to encounter him in the flesh again.

But time moved on, and the early sense of separation was slowly replaced by other concerns.  Christianity became the fashionable religion of the Roman Empire; it developed a whole culture, a way of life, in which all too easily the Messiah who had died for them on Calvary was but a vague memory.  Christians got wrapped up in other concerns, and increasingly content with their daily routines.

So imagine two types of Christian: one that longs for the return of their Lord, the other that has now become wrapped up in more worldly concerns.   To the first any return of the Saviour would be a wonderful experience, fulfilling a long time yearning that was there at the very heart of the Christian Religion.   To the second the Master’s coming resembles a raid by burglars, breaking down the wall of their cosy house.

In all honesty, is it not the case that we belong to the second group?  Can we begin again and look to the profound origin of our Christian Faith, which is a person who lived among us, and died for us.  It is he that we should yearn for, and when we do so, we become genuinely ready to welcome his coming.