“Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22: 20)
- Venerable brothers in the Priesthood, my dear Deacons, beloved Religious Men and Women, my treasured Brothers and Sisters in Christ.
- Today, we inaugurate the season of Advent, a time of expectation, a time of waiting, a time of preparation for the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ. The season of Advent, by its very nature calls us to vigilance; vigilance in waiting for the Messiah, who was born at Bethlehem; the One who comes daily in Word, Sacraments and Neighbour; and the One who will come at the end of time. As we await His coming, it is important that we make the most of this season, individually and collectively, in order to receive Him worthily today, tomorrow and forever.
- Thus Advent calls for the centrality of Christ in our waiting, preparation and celebration of His birth. It goes without saying that we ought to make time for quiet reflection, prayer and conversion of heart. Otherwise we risk making Christmas celebration no more than a commercial show which looks perfect on the surface but spiritually unsatisfying.
- The liturgy of Advent should help us to understand fully the value and meaning of the mystery of Christmas, that it is not just about commemorating the historical event, but far more to understand that the whole of our life ought to be an “advent”, a vigilant waiting of the final coming of Jesus Christ. The season of advent prepares our mind to welcome the Lord who came, who comes and who will come again. Thus, we must learn to recognize him as present in the events of our daily life. Advent is, therefore, an intense period that directs us decisively towards Him who already came, who will come, and who comes continuously.
- “The Word became flesh and lived among us” (Jn. 1:14). Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God became man and lived among us, in order to show us God’s love and what God is like, and finally to suffer and die on a cross in order to atone for our sins. The Apostle John provides us with the reason of the incarnation of Jesus Christ: “that God sent his only Son into the world that we might have life through him” (1Jn. 4, 9). Therefore, in Christ we have life, and in Christ we live forever. The season of Advent, consequently, becomes an occasion for us to renew and return the great love that God has lavished upon us, the gift of His Son. Saint John further encourages us that: “Let us love, then, because he first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19). That Christmas gift we present to each other is a reminder of the greatest of all gifts: God’s love to each one of us.
- We cannot love what we do not know. Our human mind is not equipped to comprehend the essence of the Creator. That is the more reason Jesus became man to put a human face on God. He showed us God’s power, His wisdom, His compassion and His love. Jesus was God in man. After the resurrection, He sent the disciples out with power, wisdom and eloquence to proclaim the Good News of salvation, and to work for the coming of His kingdom on earth (Mt 28:18-20). This is the content of the Faith we have received and entrusted with to transmit to others in perpetuity (Titus 1: 9).
- This is the Faith – during the ‘Year of Faith’, we are being called to renew, to embrace and to proclaim. The ‘Year of Faith’ has been a gracious period during which we are called to return humbly and simply back to the roots of our Faith, namely: the Word. And Advent offers us a great opportunity to re-examine our Faith, to re-experience the effects and to re-commit ourselves to a deeper friendship with Christ and expressed solidarity with others. Indeed, Faith without works is nothing (James 2:20).
- “No hurt, no harm will be done on my holy mountain” (Is. 11:9). During this time of the liturgical year, we turn to those wonderful readings from the prophet Isaiah which describes the coming Savior and His Kingdom, what it will be like, look like and feel like. Chapter 11 of the Prophet Isaiah illustrates well the new Messianic era (Is. 11: 6-9) as a time of peace, hope, harmony and prosperity. However, our experience today offers to the contrary, namely: violence, hostility, conflict, intolerance, arrogance, a growing gap between the rich and the poor, and nepotism of all shapes and shades. Corruption seems to be the order of the day and deception and fraud go on unabated. We are slowly becoming consistent in inconsistencies.
- On the other hand, both traditional and Christian family structures and values are now being tested. And this possesses a challenge in the Church’s evangelizing mission concerning the family, which is the foundation of both our society and the Church. Further, there seem to be a growing tendency not only to divorce Faith from Life, but also to practice religious syncretism as a normal way of practicing our Christian Faith.
- However, Advent is a season of hope. Our hope is that “The ‘door of faith’ (Acts 14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God… It is possible to cross that threshold when the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by the transforming grace”. During Advent, we need to learn and intensify the reading and meditation on the Word and frequently make recourse to the sacramental grace in the sacraments of Penance and Reconciliation, and the Holy Eucharist.
- These spiritual avenues will help us to rid of the darkness of our lives and move us into the light of Christ; will help us cast away our anguish and sadness so as to acquire the serenity of mind and a peaceful heart, and hope of a better tomorrow, where chaos will pave way to peace. Of course, the tragedy of our life will still be the burden we must carry. However, the cross will be lighter and life will have meaning and purpose. And only then would we prosper as individuals and subsequently as a society.
- “Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:20).”The Son of Man is going to come in the glory of his Father with his angels and then he will reward each one according to his deeds” (Mat 16: 27). When Jesus returns at his second coming, He will come as an all-just judge. He will look at each one of us in the eyes and ask, “What have you done to promote the spreading of my kingdom on earth?” (Cf. 2 Cor. 5:10). And some of us may have to lower our gaze and whisper, “Really not much, Lord.”
- Advent is a time to return to God’s friendship. We need to divert our attention from the hustle and bustle of the world around us and focus, at least for a while, on eternal realities. Our life is a pilgrimage towards the heavenly Kingdom. And Advent is here to remind us of the brevity of this journey and to help us get prepared to face the last judgement. On this pilgrimage let us look out for the weak and the marginalized, let us promote freedom and nurture an inclusive solidarity based on the dignity and worth of all.
- May Mary, the Blessed Virgin Mother of the Church accompany us as we prepare ourselves for the coming of Her Son Jesus Christ, now and at the end of our earthly pilgrimage. And, I impart my Apostolic Blessing on all of you and those you will share this Advent Message with.
- Given this day at Ndola, Cathedral of Christ the King, on 17th November, the Feast of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, in the Year of our Lord, 2013.
+ Dr. Alick Banda
Bishop of Ndola
 Cf. Pope John Paul II, General Audience, 18th December 2002, n° 2.
 Cf. Synod of Bishops, Preparatory Document 2013, n° 1.
 Cf. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei, 11th October 2011, n° 1.