Kuwait City - 29, 30 November, 1 December 2013
Homily of the Apostolic Nuncio, His Grace Archbishop Petar Rajič
First Sunday of Advent – A
Is 2:1-5; Rm 13:11-14; Mt 24:37-44
During the course of the liturgical year, the Church re-lives the great events of salvation history in the “today” of the liturgy. The Advent season which we now begin, is a time to be spiritually awake, constant in prayer and faithful in good deeds, as we grow in awareness of the presence of the Lord in our daily lives. For the next four weeks of Advent, we shall also be preparing ourselves spiritually for the great solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Christmas season during which we recall the great historical event of salvation that occurred with the Incarnation of the Son of God. We also look to the future with hope, towards the salvation still to be unveiled with the transformation of the world at the end of time.
In today’s gospel, the Lord makes a reference to events of the past that occurred during Noah’s time, long before Jesus came into the world, in order to provide us a lesson for today and our future. He mentions that as in the days of Noah, before the great flood, people were “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man”. Jesus here did not mention any sins or injustices. The people were just going about their own regular
business. It is precisely here however, where the main problem arises, for when we are too busy with our regular activities and think only about them, we tend to forget the things that are more important and essential for living our lives properly. Since we are so preoccupied with our daily lives and providing for the present, we might think that there’s simply not enough time to think about the future, of better times, of working towards making our society and the world we live in a better place for all. We may feel that we have little or no time to think about ourselves and where our lives are heading, or about God and the afterlife, and what will become of us when we depart from this world?
The days of Noah can be understood as times of the absence of God. Not that God abandoned Noah or his people, but that the people started forgetting about God, because everything they were doing seemed more important. The same difficulty can manifest itself in our lives when we are only concerned about the bare essentials of our lives, what we are going to eat, what we shall wear, how we are going to pay our bills, and so on. The days of Noah become our days as well when we forget to dream about better things, when we no longer have in our hearts a desire for God, for his Kingdom and its righteousness, and we substitute these noble, eternal desires of the soul with the passing material and human things of this world.
The Lord Jesus says that the time of his arrival will be unexpected and a surprise. It is comparable to the arrival of a thief in the night who wishes to rob our homes of our valuables. The Lord will come, looking for something precious that you have within you, which he wants for himself. The treasure the Lord is seeking is not anything material, but rather us, our very being, our desire for him, hence he is searching for the most valuable thing we possess – our hearts.
“Be ready” therefore, is indeed an important warning to us all that we should use our time well and always be prepared for the arrival of the Lord. This state of readiness can be compared to being “on-line” all the time, instead of on stand-by. Those on-line will always be ready to receive others and to give, and eager to serve, while those on stand-by will just remain on hold, inactive, and they will miss the opportunity of a lifetime.