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HOMILY FOR FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT (B)

Dear friends. I love the huge southern window here in the Cathedral with its wonderful display of light and colour. At the very centre of this stained glass window is the risen Christ. He is surrounded by other characters from the Bible, Apostles and saints but all of these are pictured in the window in relation to Christ who is at the centre. This is also a common feature of some of the most famous Cathedrals in Europe that have a massive rose window where the person of Jesus Christ lies at the centre of the circle. All other people and things revolve around him.

As Advent begins again and another Christmas approaches, it is a time to prepare. Yes, we prepare for Christmas by doing the shopping, preparing for visits by family and decorating our homes. But we all know that Advent is also the time to prioritise our spiritual preparation for the Lord’s birth at Christmas. The best way for us to do this is by once again placing our friendship with Christ at the centre of our lives. By doing this, the stained glass window in our Cathedral becomes a symbol of the order of our lives where Jesus Christ is at the centre of everything.

It is interesting to note from the Bible how the people of the Old Testament longed for a King when they didn’t have one. This desire was more than someone who would govern them but for a leader who would unite the people as one. David was such a king who did this with the promise that someone would come after him who would complete the work of uniting God’s people – another great leader who would be the centre. When the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that Jesus would have ‘the throne of his ancestor David’, he was announcing that Jesus would be this great leader who would unify lives, peoples, nations and the world.

When Christ is at the centre of your life and mine, every part of who we are works in harmony and makes our soul beautiful – our minds, our wills, our passions, our bodies, all unite together in harmony around him. When Christ is at the centre of our families, there again is unity and harmony. When Christ is at the centre of our parish then again is unity and harmony. On the other hand, when something other than Christ is at the centre of our lives then the centre doesn’t hold and things fall apart. We begin to feel disjointed and divided within ourselves. Especially around Christmas, like Martha in the Gospel we begin to fret about the ‘many things’ to do – without taking a moment to ask ourselves the question: ‘What is all of this fuss about anyway?’ ‘What or who is at the centre of it?’ When something other than Christ is at the centre of our families, we too can become disjointed with poorer communication and a lack of quality time. When something other than Christ is at the centre of our parish or our world then it too can break up, scatter and become divided.

Friends, in just over three weeks, thousands of people will return to Church for Christmas. For at least one night and one day of the year there will be a glimpse of that unity and togetherness when we gather around the new David, the newly born King, the new centre. Now is the time to prepare for that by making our friendship with Christ the unambiguous centre of our lives. Let us contemplate this as we admire with fresh eyes the beautiful southern window of our Cathedral.