Reflections

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Homily of the 1st Sunday of Advent, Liturgical Year C, by Fr. Floribert Ouambe, C.S.Sp.

Jeremiah 33:14-16; Ps.25: 4ab.8-9.10 and 14 (R. 1); 1Thessalonians 3:12-4:2; Luke 21:25-28.34-36.

Theme: Raise your Heads, your Liberation is Close at Hand!

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we begin today the season of Advent, the Holy Mother Church wants us to reflect upon the profound meaning of the “coming” of our Lord and God Jesus Christ. Yes, Jesus is coming as he promised his disciples and as our Credo rightly reminds us whenever we profess it: “He will come again to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end”. But what are the real signs of the coming of Jesus into the world and what should be the attitude of a Christian in the midst of all the disturbances that will precede this coming?

To start with, it is noteworthy that we have a lot to learn from nature and from the seasonal changes in it; we are even able to make certain predictions or draw conclusions based on these changes. Sometimes, some of us succeed in finding meaning in things that are very difficult to read or understand. More concretely, we are able to conclude from what we notice around us that, for instance, we are no more in the rainy season and that the dry season has taken place. Likewise, the signs of the times underscored in the Gospels throughout last week indicate that the reign of Christ the liberator is close at hand; the kingdom of God is imminent, a kingdom that we are keen to see and eagerly awaiting but which, in fact, is already in our midst whenever we live in conformity with the values of the Gospel and place Christ at the very centre of our day-to-day lives.

The word “Advent” means “Coming” and the readings of this first Sunday of Advent speak of “comings”. Thus, in the first, from the Book of Jeremiah, God promises to send an “upright branch” of the family of David, who will establish peace and justice in a world whereby wars, criminality, terrorism, injustice and corruption appear to be very rampant. Thus Jesus, who is God’s anointed one, whose coming we look forward to, is calling us to hope, courage and faithfulness, for his imminent coming will put an end to all this evil and establish a New World. And in the Gospel, Saint Luke underlines that the awaited New World will spring up from the ruins of the Old one. Further, he tells us how to live a good life as we are waiting in joyful hope for this coming. Finally, the Second Reading is an invitation to each and every one of us to live our Christian life in expectation of the “coming” of Christ; it also singles out the fact that, the Lord can be received and welcomed only by those who, in spite of all the difficulties, trials and tribulations they experience in this world, keep the commandment of love, which is the summary of the whole Law and the prophets.

Therefore, as we look forward to the coming of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ, who, in reality, is already with us according to his promise (Matthew 28:20), let us ask God to grant us the grace of courage and faithfulness to him by putting into practice in our daily lives, the greatest of all commandments, that is, the Love of him, with all our hearts, with all our souls, with all our strength, and the love of all our brothers and sisters as ourselves. Amen!

 

  Family and Eucharist

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A family is a social group made up of parents and their children. It also refers to a group of persons who come from the same ancestor. The word family is used metaphorically to create more inclusive categories such as the community, nationhood, global village and humanism. An analysis of the second Chapter of the Book of Genesis reveals that from the very beginning of the world, the concept of family (marriage) has been in God’s mind. That is why, “he created them male and female”, and for that reason, “man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Genesis 2: 24; Mark 10: 7-8). Besides, the recent Synod on the family held in the Vatican from October 4 to October 25 stated that the family, founded on marriage of a man and a woman, is the “magnificent and in-substitutable place of love and transmission of life”. In other words, no other entity or institution can duly replace a family, for the family is fundamental in human society in that it is its basic cell. Furthermore, quoting Pope Francis’ homily for the opening of the aforementioned Synod, paragraph one of the Instrumentum Laboris (Working Document) underscores that “God did not create the human being to live in sadness or to be alone, but for happiness, to share his path with another person that is complementary”. Therefore, in the family, the husband and the wife give themselves wholeheartedly to each other, and their union creates life, and in their communion, we see a reflection of the Blessed Trinity (the perfect relationship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit), a bond that is eternal and unbreakable. From the foregoing, how can the concept of Family relate to the Eucharist?

The Eucharist, together with Baptism and Confirmation, are Sacraments that lay the foundations of Christian life; that is the reason for which they are commonly called Sacraments of Christian Initiation. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, The Eucharist, which is also called the Lord’s Supper, the Breaking of Bread, the Eucharistic Assembly, the Memorial of the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection, the Holy Communion and the Holy Mass, is “the sum and summary of our faith” (No. 1124). Consequently the Celebration of the Eucharist is at the very centre of our worship and is the motive of our being Christians, that is, Christ’s followers. As St. John Paul II pointed out in Ecclesia de Eucharistia, “The Church lives from the Eucharist…” and without the Eucharist, there is no Church. Being a “Domestic Church” (Cf. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, No. 4), the family draws its full meaning from the Eucharist. In fact, as the latter is a bond of love and unity among the faithful, the former is a bond of love and unity among the spouses. Furthermore, the Holy Eucharist is the prototype, the model or perfect representation of a family, whereby all the Christian faithful come together and are united around the Eucharistic table in order to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ as a sign of their oneness.

To finish with, all Christians, as members of families, are called to partake daily or at least regularly in Eucharistic celebrations, first of all, as a sign of their love for one another as well as their communion with the entire Church, that is, the mystical Body of Christ, and then as the place where they receive their mission to go and announce the Good news by their day-to-day lives.

 

                                                                                                    Fr. Floribert Ouambe, C.S.Sp.

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