2nd Sunday of Advent, Year A
Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17 (3)
December 8, 2019
Advent is a time to reflect on the coming of Jesus. Last week’s gospel spoke of the Second Coming. The birth of Jesus that we celebrate at Christmas is the First Coming of Jesus. Today our gospel is set in the time just before Jesus begins his public ministry.
John the Baptist was sent to “prepare the way of the Lord.” Thus he proclaimed, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Repent! You have sinned! You need to do penance and to turn your heart to God. Our liturgical color for Advent is violent (generally we say purple). It is a color that signifies penance. There will be judgment for as Jesus says, “Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Yet, we are not to repent simply in fear, fear of judgment. No, we celebrate Advent and repent in a spirit of hope knowing that Jesus came into the world to save us from our sins.
We need to acknowledge our sins as a sign of repentance and turning them over to God. Jesus has given us a sacrament for this, the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We begin this Sacrament confessing our sins.
John the Baptist calls the Pharisees and Sadducees to “Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.” The best way for us to give evidence of repentance to live better but it begins with receiving a Penance in the Sacrament of Reconciliation that we do in atonement for our sins and as evidence of our repentance.
We do this seeking the Lord’s justice. We might think of “justice” as one reserving punishment for their transgressions where it be for their sins or secular crimes. With sin comes consequences but if we repent, God takes the punishment of sin and puts it on Jesus who takes away the sin of the world.
If you examine your conscience and find you have sinned, God offers us the gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I encourage you to examine your conscience. If you find you have sinned, in the bulletin you will find extra times we are offering for the Sacrament during Advent.
What I have said so far focuses on reconciliation individually with God. This should not flow from just fear with God. No, for as we celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, as Paul writes it is through “the encouragement of the Scriptures that we might have hope.”
From there Paul goes on to say that that we “think in harmony with one another.” As we think about reconciliation with God, we need to also think about reconciliation with other people.
Here Paul writes, “Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God.” Is there someone you need to forgive and welcome back into your life?
Is there hope for reconciliation?
Of course, we have hope in Jesus. Jesus is the one who fulfills what Isaiah speaks of in today’s first reading, “a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse.” Isaiah is speaking of a Messiah, Jesus, that is an heir to David (the son, the stump of Jesse).
The Messiah will open up a new age where “the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the kid.” Likewise the “calf and the young lion” and “the cow and the bear.” Even “the baby shall play by the cobra’s den.”
Jesus makes this possible for us because “the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him” giving him a spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, and fear of the Lord.
Conflict between people is nothing new. We know that the Pharisees and the Sadducees did not get along with Jesus but know that they didn’t even get along with each other. Why? Because they each thought they knew what was right and won’t listen to each other or anyone else.
We continue to see differences today. We see it between countries like between North Korea and us. We see it within our own country between political parties. This is why we need to pray for our government leaders that God endow them with what they need to know to be good leaders.
We also see divisions within Christianity. How many different denominations are there? Who’s right?
Who’s right? That’s simple! God is!
The secular world’s answer to all the differences of opinion is “relativism”, meaning you can believe whatever you want as long as you keep it to yourself and don’t hurt anyone else.
That’s not what God asks of us. God calls us to share Jesus with others and to share the Truth of our faith. We are not to force it on others. God gives everyone free will but if a person never hears about Jesus, then they don’t really have any freedom to choose to follow Jesus or not. By offering to them what we know about Jesus, we give them the freedom to choose.
How do we know we are right? The Catholic Church certainly has had its struggles and failings in the 2,000 years since Jesus walked on Earth but it has survived the struggles because we are given in Baptism and Confirmation the gift of the Holy Spirit giving us wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord to help us live as children of God.
Let us listen to the Lord and follow him, reconciled with him and one another.