(From the Bulletin of Sts. Joachim and Ann Catholic Church, December 4, 2016)
The Second Sunday of Advent "A"
To be faithful to the message of Advent, true followers of Christ must somehow close their ears to the messages of TV and the shopping malls. They must ignore much of what passes for the Christmas spirit (which treats the Birth of Christ as an unreal fairy tale), and focus on the voice of the Church and the riches of Sacred Scripture. Advent time is absolutely necessary if we are to understand and celebrate what our faith tells us is actually happening.
The First Reading this week is from the prophecy of Isaiah which promises that rich fruit will spring from a tender shoot. The apparently dead stump of Jesse, the father of King David, is destined to produce an even greater King who will usher in an amazing era of perfect justice. It will be a time of peace and harmony, in which all wrongs will be righted, and all people will be free. This wonderful promise is the true "reason for the season"; this is why Jesus became a child in the first place!
In the second reading, St. Paul explains to us as well as the Romans, that Scripture is instructing us that we must be temples of justice, making the dream of Isaiah into a present reality. How do we do this? By thinking in harmony: Look around you; is this harmony lacking in our prayer groups? Am I an agent of disharmony? What doubt and discomfort am I spreading in my prayer group? Advent is all about building harmony and the Kingdom of God.
The Second Sunday of Advent always features John the Baptist in its choice of Gospel readings. This year, we have a very full description of John's mission, his message, and the difference between John's baptism, a baptism of repentance and Jesus' baptism, a baptism of water and the Spirit.
When John sees many Pharisees and Sadducees coming out to be baptized, he interrupts his preaching to give them a dressing down in strong language. He tells them that if they are to receive his baptism, they had better live by it and sincerely change their ways. How can I implement this teaching of John in my core relationship?
Indeed, John is a voice in the wilderness, telling everyone to "repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." For those of us in today's Church, "repentance" should include a good Advent confession as we prepare for a fruitful coming of the Lord into our hearts this Christmas.
Fr. Louis Kemayou, Pastor