2nd Sunday in Advent, Year A
Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
December 4, 2016
Christmas is now just three weeks away. So, our gospel readings shift from the Second Coming to the time just before the birth of Jesus. That puts us right at the peak of the ministry of John the Baptist.
John the Baptist came as a prophet (symbolized by the clothing made of camel’s hair and the leather belt he wore). He came with a very specific message, “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He knew that Jesus who is mightier than he, was about to come. He knew the people were not ready and so he sought to lead them to repentance to help them be ready.
With Christmas coming, how much are you doing to get ready for your Christmas celebrations?
Do you have shopping to do? Have you even started?
Do you have decorating to do? In our church, our nativity scene is up outside but we wait for Christmas itself to decorate inside. When we you do your decorating?
How about the food? How much thought have you given to the food that you will cook?
In order to prepare properly, we need to think about what it is we seek. So think about what the perfect Christmas would look like.
For me, it is simple. I just want a beautiful Christmas Mass in church. No gifts and not a lot of parties. There is nothing wrong with gifts and parties. I just know that where I experience the really meaning of Christmas is being at church (which is a good thing because I will spend a lot of time in church for Christmas.
Gifts are good but I have everything I need or want. If you want to give me a gift, give something to charity (I suggest the CMA). I like quiet so I’m not a party person.
What helps you remember what the real meaning of Christmas is?
Christmas is all about the coming of Jesus. However, Jesus did not simply come once and forgot us? Jesus will come again at the End. But we don’t have to wait till the End. Jesus wants to be part of our lives every day.
Many of the Pharisees and Sadducees were coming to John the Baptist to be baptized for the repentance of sins. John tells them it is not enough to claim Abraham as their ancestor. John baptizes only with water for the forgiveness of sins. He knows that Jesus will come mightier than he and that Jesus’ baptism will include the Holy Spirit and fire.
Jesus comes to change our lives through the Holy Spirit who gives us the gifts of knowledge, wisdom, understanding, strength, counsel, and fear of the Lord.
Jesus comes to set us on fire with faith. So getting ready for Jesus coming into our lives means getting ready for something different than what we are used to.
Our psalm says “Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace forever.” Are we ready for justice? Justice is not defined by what we want. Justice means the world is as God calls it to be.
Are you ready to embrace peace? This doesn’t just mean no more war. It isn’t just an end to violence such as terrorism. Peace means letting go of what has hurt us. Peace means forgiving those who have wronged us. Peace means loving others. Peace means letting go of material things and focusing on compassion and mercy. When we do this we let Jesus come into our hearts.
To live with Jesus we might need to change our perspective on life. For instance, when you meet somebody, what is the first thing you notice? How much do you rely on their appearance? Jesus doesn’t focus on their external appearance. How much do you go by “hearsay” about the person? Jesus looks into their hearts.
Long before Jesus came, the Prophet Isaiah was already speaking about how we need to change our perspective. We live thinking the wolf and the lamb, the leopard and the kid, the calf and the young lion, must all be enemies but Isaiah says that will change.
So I invite you to ask yourselves:
- How much time do you spend getting ready for Christmas celebrations?
- How much time do you spend thinking about Jesus’ birth and what it means for us?
- You can do both. Will you?