Today is the beginning of a new year for the Church; a new liturgical year, Year B. Today is the First Sunday of Advent. Remember, the word, “Advent” means arrival. Advent is a time we await the arrival or coming of Christmas. We remember when Jesus Christ first came to earth in the flesh. In Advent, we also prepare for the second / final arrival / coming of Jesus Christ, no longer as our savior but as our judge. So, there are two arrivals here: the first, when he was born; and the second, when he will come at the end of the world to judge the living and the dead.

            Today, we live in the interval between the first arrival and the second arrival. What is our responsibility in this interval between the first and the second arrivals? In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus gives us a hint on what we should be doing in this interval. He gave the parable of the man who was traveling abroad and placed his servants in charge of his home, each with his own work. Jesus used the parable to teach us the need to keep watch so that his return would not catch us unprepared. Keeping watch here does not mean idle gazing, but doing what he has asked us to do. Before he ascended into heaven, he said to us, “Go into the world, and make disciples of all nations… teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

            This responsibility is for all of us who are baptized. Each one of us has a role to play in bringing the world to Christ, through our words, our actions, and inactions. As Catholics, at the end of the Mass, the priest or deacon dismisses us with these words or similar words, “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.” Recently, I have been thinking about how we are doing in terms of teaching the world about the command of Christ. I see how we still have a long way to go even in the most simple aspects of this responsibility.

            One thing I have been trying to understand these days is how I would ask some people, “Are you a Christian?” And they would say, “No, I am not a Christian, I am Catholic.” Last week, I met a young man in his late twenties. I asked him, “Do you identify with any religion?” He said, “No, I am just Catholic.” I thought it was bad enough that some Catholics have been made to believe they are not Christians. But now, some even think Catholicism is not a religion. I do not judge them. It only makes me to examine myself. Such experiences as I have shared make me ask myself: “What are you doing with the work Jesus gave you before he left?” “What will you show him as evidence of your hard work?” You may also ask yourself similar questions. As parents, should Jesus return today, can you confidently say you taught your children the love and commandments of Jesus by your words, actions, and inactions? As siblings, as friends, as co-workers, how much of Jesus do we share with others? If we are not sure of our identity as Catholic Christians, how can we live the life that flows from that identity? How can we share what we do not know?

            Some of us shy away from our responsibilities as Catholic Christians because people may say we are taking “this religion thing” too seriously. Remember, the one we are following took us so seriously that he died on the cross for us. Nothing we do to keep his message alive can be too serious. My dearly beloved in Christ, Jesus came as our savior. Jesus will come again, no longer as our savior but as our judge. Remember, he gave us a homework before he left: to keep his commandments and his love alive, and to share same with others until he comes again. May his return find us watchful and thriving in this responsibility that we may receive the reward of eternal life, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Ochigbo

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