Preparation In The Hope Of Receiving Christ
Readings: (1st: Ish 11 1-10; Ps: 71, 1-2.7-8.12-13; 2nd: Rom 15, 4-9; Gos: Mtt 3, 1-12)
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working with the Spiritan International Group of Puerto Rico & Dominican Republic. He is the Administrator of Parroquia La Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Chancellor of the Diocesis of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today is the second Sunday of Advent. As a family of God’s people, we continue to move in the hope of receiving the fulfillment of God’s promise through our ancestors in faith. Hence, this Sunday the church reminds us that while we are sustained by the great hope of the Lord’s coming, we have to pay heed to the voice of the one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his path straight.” One thing common to all the readings of this Sunday is that they are all anchored on the prophecy of Isaiah about the Messiah.
In the first reading, Isaiah prophesied of the Lord’s coming in unequivocal terms. He equally, clearly described the qualities and marks of this promised king. First, he shall be filled with the spirit of God. He shall be a man of integrity. He shall judge with equity and righteousness. He will not only fear God, but shall respect his people.
What a great hope the prophet brings us this season! Isaiah reminds us that the future is bright in Christ our Messiah. He promises that he shall be different from other kings, and that his reign shall bring us freedom from evil and oppression. It shall bring us peace with God, and with one another. It shall strengthen our unity in spite of our diversities.
The prophet writes: “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them…They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain…” Indeed, if we welcome Christ sincerely, this will not sound utopian as many think it does. Our world would be a place where we do not have to live in fear of one another, and where the strong will no longer oppress the weak.
In the second reading, Paul continues with the same message of hope for all nations. He reminds us that: “Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.” It is this same hope that sustains us this season. It will keep us united in faith, prayer, and love until what is written in the scriptures are fulfilled at the end of this season. Hence, through what has been written in the scriptures, Paul exalts us to rejoice and praise God for what he is about to do. He concludes with the same message from Isaiah: “The root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the nations; in him the nations shall hope.”
In today’s gospel, the fact of the appearance of John the Baptist is also a message of hope that the coming of the Messiah is near. However, brings as very important message to us: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near!” Also, he employed the prophecy of Isaiah to exalts us to: “prepare the way of the Lord and make his path straight!”
The message of John this Sunday underscores the importance of this season. It is a time of not just for material preparation. Rather, it is a time of retreat, a time of deep reflection on the mystery that God is about to reveal to the world. It is a time of cleaning up and leveling the rough edges of our lives with the hope of receiving our Lord in a wonderful state of mind and body. It suffices to remind us here that John’s message is another way of telling us that: “Without Holiness no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12, 14).
Repentance, reconciliation, and holiness of heart are the prerequisites for justifying our hope at the end of this season. Therefore, let us rid ourselves of everything that will hinder us from receiving Christ this season. In light of this, the church encourages us to take advantage of the sacrament of reconciliation in other to prepare ourselves to receive our Lord and King.
Peace be with you all!