FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT: THE DAWN OF A NEW BEGINNING
The first Sunday of advent marks the beginning of a new liturgical year and season. Just as the beginning of something new often comes with excitement and great anticipation (think of a new relationship, new house, new friend, new class, new car, etc), the season of advent also comes with great hope, enthusiasm, and joy in what is to come as we make this journey. This journey is a path to the kingdom of God. It is a journey of joy.

In the readings, the Church presents us with spiritual recipes as we begin to set the stage for the great event of the nativity of Christ. In the first reading, we are presented with Isaiahs vision. Isaiah prophesies joy and universal peace. He foresees a period when all nations will stream to the mountain of the Lord. This period will be a time of universal peace when nations will no longer rise against nations in war. What a great prophesy of hope, joy and peace! Christ is the fulfillment of this prophesy.

One may ask, can we say that this prophesy made hundreds of years before the birth of Christ was indeed fulfilled with the birth of Christ? Is the world free from wars? Is there universal peace? The answer is No, because there is hardly any region on earth that is free from war and/or the horror of violence.

We can better understand this prophesy of Isaiah in the context of the second reading where St. Paul tells us that the fulfillment of this prophesy needs our cooperation. We can never experience this dawn of a new beginning if we do not throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.St. Paul reminds us that we are no longer a people of darkness. Rather, we (through our baptism) have become citizens of Light; and the time has come for us to cast away bitterness, jealousy, greed, drunken orgies, discrimination, war, injustice, selfishness, and every deed of darkness.

As we welcome this dawn of a new season and prepare for the birth of Christ at Christmas, let us ask ourselves: what is the state of our relationship with God? Are we still inclined to jealousy, bitterness, envy, and selfishness? Are we still living in darkness? Are we prepared enough to welcome Christ?
In the Gospel reading, Christ tells us to always be awake, vigilant and ready. Vigilance is the key, as we begin the new season of advent in preparation for Christmas. We are not to be caught sleeping when we should be fulfilling our Christian responsibility of fostering peace, unity, love, joy, and justice on earth. Now is the time to prepare, to cast away the deeds of darkness, to love and be generous, to foster peace, so that Christs coming will not meet us unprepared.

Seminarian, Jude Okeke