First Sunday Advent Homily Year B

First Sunday advent homily year B

Reading 1 IS 63:16B-17, 19B; 64:2-7
You, LORD, are our father,
our redeemer you are named forever.
Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways,
and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?
Return for the sake of your servants,
the tribes of your heritage.
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
with the mountains quaking before you,
while you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for,
such as they had not heard of from of old.
No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you
doing such deeds for those who wait for him.
Would that you might meet us doing right,
that we were mindful of you in our ways!
Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful;
all of us have become like unclean people,
all our good deeds are like polluted rags;
we have all withered like leaves,
and our guilt carries us away like the wind.
There is none who calls upon your name,
who rouses himself to cling to you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and have delivered us up to our guilt.
Yet, O LORD, you are our father;
we are the clay and you the potter:
we are all the work of your hands.

Responsorial Psalm PS 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19

R. (4) Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse your power,
and come to save us.
R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
Once again, O LORD of hosts,
look down from heaven, and see;
take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted
the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
May your help be with the man of your right hand,
with the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
Then we will no more withdraw from you;
give us new life, and we will call upon your name.
R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

Reading 2 1 COR 1:3-9

Brothers and sisters:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I give thanks to my God always on your account
for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus,
that in him you were enriched in every way,
with all discourse and all knowledge,
as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you,
so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift
as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He will keep you firm to the end,
irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is faithful,
and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

Alleluia PS 85:8 R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Show us Lord, your love;
and grant us your salvation.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MK 13:33-37

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be watchful! Be alert!
You do not know when the time will come.
It is like a man traveling abroad.
He leaves home and places his servants in charge,
each with his own work,
and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.
Watch, therefore;
you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,
whether in the evening, or at midnight,
or at cockcrow, or in the morning.
May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.
What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!'”

Homily – First Sunday of Advent – Year B

Doors and Dormant Doormen

“If the master comes unexpectedly,

he must not  you asleep” (Mk)

            “Kaka, you’re the only man in the world ‘who’s paid for sleeping!” remarked Joe Dias to the doorkeeper of Premaljyoti, our Jesuit HQ in Ahmedabad. Early l 9805, when things were missing from the open corridors and gardens of Premaljyoti, we suspected that it was the work of the Vaghris, a nomadic group that lived in the slums nearby. It Was Dahyabhai, our parlour-attendant, a Vaghri himself, who advised us to hire a Vaghri to keep watch and terminate the thieving. It worked. We employed a Vaghri leader nicknamed Kaka, who ordered his people to stop stealing from Premaljyoti or else he’d lose his job. Thereafter, Kaka has slept at the doors of Premaljyoti. And, is paid for it!

            Not all doorkeepers are as lucky as Kaka. In fact, the doorkeeper described in Mark’s gospel must keep watch “evening, midnight, cockcrow, dawn”! Today, we begin a new liturgical year, the B-cycle, with readings mainly from the Gospel of Mark, supplemented with the Gospel of john. Today, let’s dwell on the symbols. of door and doorkeeper to initiate Adventic preparations.

            The first reading is from the ‘psalm of lament’ covering Isa 63:7 to 64:l l. The Israelites return from Babylonian exile with high hopes enkindled by Isaiah’s prophesies. But, nothing seems to happen. So, they long for Yahweh to intervene. “Return!” They plead, “Oh that you would tear open the heavens and comedown!” God must open heaven’s doors and come down. This cry for intervention has long been associated with Advent.

            Corresponding to the first reading, today’s psalm (80) is also a community lament, a cry for divine intervention. The “man you have chosen” in the psalm proximately refers to Israel’s king. However, it is also a reference to the Messianic King, Jesus. Thus, the psalm becomes a petition to God to send the Messiah.

            In the second reading, Paul glorifies God for the blessings showered upon his’ people. These blessings are ‘charisms’ for ministry. Paul exhorts his people to utilize these talents so that “you may not be without the gifts of the Spirit while you are waiting for our Lord Jesus to be revealed.”

            The gospel ‘parable of the doorkeeper’ tells of a man who goes abroad keeping his servants in charge of his house. Instructions to the doorkeeper are, “Stay awake!” That the master will return is sure – when? No one knows. Nonetheless, the doorkeeper must stay at the door; watch everything stored behind it and everyone standing before it.

            Doors convey multiple meanings. Closing doors is security but also inhospitality; opening them suggests welcome, but invites trouble. A bashful Indian bride knows not what awaits her as she ceremoniously crosses the doorpost of her in-laws’ house, right foot first. And, many adivasi (aboriginal) friends in south Gujarat do not make pucca doors for their dwellings not because there’s little to be robbed, but mainly because they trust everyone.

            Advent reminds us that our mind is a ventilator. Our heart is a window, our self, a door. It’s time now to open our minds to fresh ideas, our hearts to more people, and our lives for deeper commitment to the One who comes, comes, ever comes. Sadly, we busy ourselves with shopping for Christmas. What about stopping for Christ? Stop! Watch! Wait!

            Chandan Singh (45) of Konyadang village in Madhya Pradesh, central India, is regarded as a reincarnation of the mythological Kumbhakarna. For the past 20 years Chandran has been sleeping for about 6 months at a stretch, and then wakes up, but only to sleep again for prolonged spells. Isn’t there a spark of Kumbhakarna, Chandan and Kaka in us all?

            “Listen, I stand at the door knocking; if- you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you” (Rev 3:20). Doorkeeper, are you awake? Will you open? The door so that He will dine with you this Christmas?

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