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 Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. He was the chancellor of the Diocese of Fajardo Humacao, Puerto Rico. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at:
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 heed the voice of the one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his path straight.” One thing is common to the readings of this Sunday. They are all anchored on the prophecy of Isaiah about the Messiah.
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In the first reading, Isaiah prophesied of the Lord’s coming in unequivocal terms. He equally 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, judge with equity and righteousness, and 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 despite 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: “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 is fulfilled at the end of this season. Hence, following 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 appearance of John the Baptist is also a message of hope that the coming of the Messiah is near. However, it brings an 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!”
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The message of John this Sunday underscores the importance of this season. It is a time not just for material preparation. Instead, it is a time of retreat and deep reflection on the mystery 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 beautiful 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 the heart are the prerequisites for justifying our hope at the end of this season. Therefore, let us rid ourselves of everything hindering us from receiving Christ this season. In light of this, the church encourages us to take advantage of the sacrament of reconciliation to prepare ourselves to receive our Lord and King.
Peace be with you all!