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TALK DELIVERED AT THE CATHOLIC MEN ASSOCIATION (TAKORADI DEANERY) ADVENT RETREAT AT APOWA BY REV. FR. EMMANUEL DOLPHYNE ON                                10TH DECEMBER 2016

THEME: “LET US STOP DOING THE THINGS THAT BELONG TO THE DARK” (ROMANS 13:12)

St. Joseph, Work and Sacrifice
St. Joseph, Work and Sacrifice
St. Joseph, Service to the Church and help to the needy.

Mr. President, this morning, on behalf of the Catholic community of the St. John the Evangelist Parish at Apowa, I wish to warmly welcome you and all the members of the Catholic Men Association (Takoradi Deanery) who have gathered here for the Advent retreat. We are extremely privileged to be hosting you for this all important spiritual exercise with the aim of helping you prepare spiritually for the coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Secondly, I would like to extend a hand of appreciation to you for inviting me to reflect with you on the theme “Let us stop doing the things that belong to the dark” (Romans 13:12).

My dear brothers, the spirit of the season of Advent confirm for us the importance of the theme you have chosen. And I justify this assertion by affirming that Advent is a season that begins the Church’s Liturgical year; a period where the Church reminds us to prepare for the second coming of Christ even as we celebrate the first coming. Thus, during Advent, we not only think about Christmas but we look forward and prepare for Christ’s second coming at the end of time.

Advent therefore has a twofold character, it is a time of preparation for the solemnities of Christmas in which the first coming of the son of God to humanity is remembered, and likewise it is a time when the remembrance of this, hearts and minds are led to look forward to the second coming of Christ at the end of time. It is a period of devout and expectant delight (cf General Norms for the Liturgical year, no. 39)

Consequently, the season of Advent tells us not to be anxious about when the world will end, for it was not part of His plan of salvation to reveal this information. (cf CCC 673) However, we are warned not to take things for granted but to stay alert and vigilant.

Mr. President, my dear brothers, your theme for this year’s Advent retreat therefore shows us how we can stay awake and also remain vigilant as we await the Lord’s coming. On this note, kindly permit me to read in context Romans 13:11-14 so that we can appreciate the obligation we have as Catholic men during this season of Advent. “You must do this, because you know that the time has come for you to awake from your sleep. For the moment when we will be saved is closer now than it was when we first believed. The night is nearly over, day is almost here. Let us stop doing the things that belong to the dark, and let us take up weapons for fighting in the light. Let us conduct ourselves properly, as people who live in the light of day – no orgies or drunkenness, no immorality or indecency, no fighting or jealousy. But take up the weapons of the Lord Jesus Christ, and stop paying attention to your sinful nature and satisfying its desires”

My dear brothers, Romans 13:11-14 from which our theme is taking from is the conclusion on Paul’s discussion on the duties of practical Christian Living. In summary, Paul is saying time is running out, therefore we should stop being casual about our faith, stop being lazy. The past lies behind you and eternity is set before; live for Christ.

Paul further instructed that you remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes and put on the shining armor of right light; because you belong to the day. But unfortunately, some of us wake up but spend half their day running around in their pajamas. We belong to the day so we cannot live or dress anyhow. The use of the armor is about the appropriateness of the dress we are to wear in view of the work we have been awakened to do. So put on God’s armour now! Then when the devil day comes, you will be able to resist the enemy’s attacks; and after fighting to the end, you will still hold your ground. So stand ready, with truth as a belt tight around your waist, with righteousness as your breastplate, and as your shoes, the readiness to announce the Good News of peace. At all times carry faith as a shield; for with it you will be able to put out all the burning arrows of shot by the Evil one. And accept salvation as a helmet, and the word of God as the sword which the Spirit gives you.(cf Ephesians 6:13-17) and we are to walk properly. We must behave in a manner consistent with our calling (cf Ephesians 5:1-10; 1 John 1:7; Matthew 24:42-44; Galatians 1:4)

It is therefore clear that for Paul, attitude is as important as actions. Hence, the Christian cannot live anyhow because Christ has made him different. You yourselves used to be in the darkness, but since you have become the Lord’s people, you are in the Light. So you must live like people who belong to the light, (cf Ephesians 5:8) Consequently, using Romans 13:12 as the theme for your advent retreat is a call on you to take serious the need for preparation and readiness as we await the coming of Christ. This passage therefore forces us to either do something or to deliberately choose to do nothing.

Finally, remember a fruitful advent celebration cannot be achieved without a corresponding change in lifestyle that befits the spirit of the season and is consistent with our Christian calling. Let us run away from the things of the dark, for when the light comes they will be exposed. Have nothing to do with the worthless things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light. It is really too shameful even to talk about the things they do in secret. And when all things are brought out to the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed; for anything that is clearly revealed becomes light. That is why it is said: “wake up, sleeper, and rise from death, and Christ will shine on you.”  (cf Ephesians 5:11-14) Therefore, be careful how you live. So be careful how you live. Don’t live like ignorant people, but like wise people. Don’t be fools, then, but try to find out what the Lord wants you to do (cf Ephesians 5:15, 17) and do not act thoughtlessly but understand what the Lord wants you to do

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