First Sunday of Advent – Year A

by Fr Dabulamanzi Ntshangase

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We, Christians, are known to be people most characterised by love for Christ commanded us to love God and our neighbour. If we belong to the Christian family and yet do not show love then we are in the dark, we need light. We need to start anew. In many ways today marks new beginnings: the beginning of a week, month, liturgical year and a liturgical season – Advent. Advent is divided into two parts. The first part focuses on the second coming of Christ and it runs from the beginning of the season until the 16th of December. The second part focuses on the first coming of Christ (Incarnation) at Bethlehem and it runs from the 17th of December to the 24th of December.

The reading from Isaiah contains a vision of a world at peace under God. There is a beautiful image of nations turning their weapons of war (swords and spears) into farm implements (ploughshares and sickles). But this can only happen when all nations come to the mountain of the Lord. We know from Psalms 15 and 24 that the “clean of hands and the pure of heats” can climb the mountain of the Lord. It is the duty of Israel to focus attention on the merciful God who desires the unity of the nations. This is why Isaiah calls Israel to walk in the light of the Lord.

The second reading speaks much of the second coming of Christ which the Romans believed was eminent. Paul urges them to turn away from darkness of evil and walk in the light of Christ. The gospel is also on the second coming of Christ and it emphasises on readiness. The time of the Lord’s coming is not known so are asked to stay ready to greet him at any time.

It is evident therefore, that the theme of light runs through today’s readings. We are people on whom the light of Christ has shone and still shines. We must always strive to walk in the light; the light of truth, holiness, grace, justice, love and peace. However, darkness still has power over us and it manifests itself in many ways. As long as there is hatred, enmity, injustice, immoral behaviours, lack of forgiveness and reconciliation, we are still in darkness. All the “darknesses” in our lives can be eliminated by the light of love – loving God and our neighbour. With the light of love in our lives, can there be any “image and likeness of God” – our neighbour – going to bed without food? Can there be abuse of power which results into oppression? Can there be lies and gossip? The darkness of evil is a scandal in the Christian family and those in darkness are not worth climbing the mountain of the Lord. This is why Isaiah urges us to walk in the light of the Lord and Paul to turn away from darkness and live in the light. We truly need God’s grace for us to be freed from all the “darknesses” in our lives and experience the joy of walking in the light of love, truth and goodness. Let us start anew as we begin our liturgical year.