28th November 2021

posted 29 Nov 2021, 02:24 by Parish Office

Homily for the First Sunday of Advent, Year C (28/11/21)

On Tuesday last week, NASA launched a spacecraft, and its mission is to deliberately collide with an asteroid. The whole purpose is to see if it is viable to collide spacecraft into asteroids that are heading towards earth, to knock them off course. But just imagine for one moment, if the following happened: many years later, when a spacecraft collided into a different, near-earth asteroid, it led to a visible trail of space debris in the sky – a horizontal line from the spacecraft, and a vertical one from the asteroid, forming a cross, the “sign of the Son of Man”. What if people then started to say that they could now see the signs that the Son of Man is soon to return in glory? People talk about climate change. How about if they put that together with Our Lord speaking today about “nations, in agony, bewildered by the clamour of the ocean and its waves”?

Let’s make it even more dramatic. What if, when the spacecraft and the asteroid collided, the fallout blocked out the light from the moon, the stars, and maybe, largely from the sun? Every day now spent in semi-darkness, lit up by the sight of the cross in the sky? Some of the sceptics might just say that it was caused by dust in the atmosphere. And then, let us suppose, that, just as churches began midnight Mass for Christmas, suddenly the sound of angels was heard. Everyone rushed outside, and it was true: Christ was returning in glory. Well, Mr Atheist, how do you explain that?

St John Henry Newman, in one of his Parochial and Plain Sermons (VI, 17) once said:

“If it be true that Christians have fancied signs of his coming, when there were none, it is equally true that the world will not see the signs of his coming when they are present. … True it is, that many times, many ages, have Christians been mistaken in thinking they discerned Christ’s coming; but better a thousand times think him coming when he is not, than once think him not coming when he is. … Now he must come one day, sooner or later.”

Of course, we know neither the day nor the hour, but we should be ready. We pray each time in the Mass, “that, by the help of your mercy, we may be free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.” Our call during Advent to go to

confession is not only to prepare for Christmas, but also to be ready for the return of Christ in glory.

In Old Testament times, God promised that the line of King David would last for ever. But at the time of the first reading, it seemed that the line of David was ended and the promise was buried. But in the first reading, God promises new growth, a “virtuous Branch”, Christ, who was to lead to a growth in virtue across the world. When He returns in glory, where in the world will he see virtuous growth, and where will he find only a pale imitation? Where will He find wheat, and where will He find darnel? Where will He find those who practise only a “love of neighbour” of sorts, that neglects the love of God, and where will He find a hollow “love of God” that neglects love of neighbour? And where will He find true love of God, where God is truly put first, which leads to an overflowing love of neighbour?

We have our work cut out.