REFLECTION AT FIRST ADVENT VESPERS – SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2016 AT THE HOLY SPIRIT CATHEDRAL, ADABRAKA-ACCRA.
- “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus come!” I greet you, dearly beloved in Christ Jesus, with these words of the responsorial Psalm of this morning, the last Saturday of the liturgical year. According to the tradition of the Church, with this First Advent Vespers, we are starting a new liturgical year, a new year of worship.
It is, however, very interesting to note that the sentence “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus come!” fits the end of one liturgical year as much as it fits the beginning of the new. It is a prayer that fits the closing of the year and the opening of the new. And it is this double intent, namely that one year is closing while another is opening, one day is ending while another day is just beginning, that makes Advent a very special season in the Church.
Advent is a season of expectation; “Maranatha! Come! Lord Jesus come!” It is a time of expectation and therefore it also calls for preparation; because the Immanuel, God with-us will very soon become a reality for us at Christmas; God with-us will soon come into our midst in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Word made-flesh. In another four weeks of Advent and we shall be celebrating the joyful season of Christmas. God will come to be born in our midst.
- Advent: a time two preparations: My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, every Advent is a time of expectation, yes, but better still, let me say that it is a time of preparation; indeed a time of two preparations; namely that first preparation for the celebration of Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ in our midst, Immanuel-God-with-us! Secondly, it is a season that calls us to focus on the coming of Jesus Christ, not anymore as a baby in a manger, but as the King and Judge of the living and the dead. Marantha, come Lord Jesus come! therefore, is a call to God to come and bring us home.
The question that comes up is, are we prepared indeed to “go home to the Lord our God”? Can we say with hearts full of joyful expectation indeed “Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus come!?” This is what makes the First Advent Vespers very important, in order that we will get the right focus and frame of mind; because without our knowledge and awareness, morning comes, afternoon follows, so does evening and night closes the day, and another day begins only to end the same way. However, day-in day out, with the constant cycle and succession of days and nights, we are slowly but surely inching towards the end of our earthly life. The prospect of the end of our lives surely looms. Are we really prepared for the Lord to come and take us home? “Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus come!?”
- Advent 2016: Four Appointments: Dearly beloved in Christ Jesus, this Advent is an appointment with God and with destiny in three or even four events for us in this Archdiocese of Accra; they are these:
- During this Advent, we are being called to prepare to go to the polls to elect for this our dear country a President, a Government and 275 Parliamentarians to govern Ghana.
- Next, we are preparing for Christmas, the season of the Word-made-flesh, the Immanuel, God-with-us.
- Thirdly, I am inviting you the priests and religious, the lay faithful men and women, children and youth, to take up, from this Advent, an intense one-year spiritual and liturgical preparation for the 125th anniversary of the Catholic Mission in Accra which will be celebrated from next year Advent 2017 and climaxed on the Solemnity of Christ Jesus as King of the Universe in 2018.
- Finally, you and I cannot run away from the inevitable and imminent end of life that will come when it will come; for which reason we must always be prepared.
- My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, it is with these four different events and expectations that I also cry out with you and with the Church “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus come!”
- For the general elections, my exhortation to you and me is: Let us watch and pray! Yes, we have been praying and should continue praying to God to save this country from anything ungodly and untowardly. Besides, let us be watchful and let us be the keepers of Ghana, our dear country and of all its citizens.
- As we prepare for Christmas, let us prepare for Christ to be born in the manger of our hearts. Let us open the door to the manger of our hearts and lives to all, most especially the poor and needy.
- For the year-long preparation of our 125th Anniversary, let us focus on spiritual growth in the liturgy of the Church, and let us return to appreciating our liturgical traditions of songs and prayers and services. Directives on this will be given!
- Finally, it is only in this way, shall we be preparing for the inevitable end call to account for our earthly life and existence; namely how much the incarnation of Jesus Christ, God-with-us; how much the Immanuel, God-with-us really took place in our lives and or deeds.
“Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus come!”
Most Rev. Charles G. PALMER-BUCKLE,
Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra,
Saturday, November 26, 2016.