Saturday, January 8, 2011

Homiily: Second Sunday of Advent Year A

Second Sunday of Advent Year A- Rev Michael U Udoekpo
Readings: Isa 11:1-10, Ps 72:1-2,7-8,12-13,17; Rom 15:4-9 and Matt 3:1-12
Dear friends in Christ,
The Promises of God to those who love Him
Last week I was watching a documentary on the CNN where Anderson Cooper went to visit with a Chimpanzee and animals we usually regard as “wild” without being hurt. Some of you may have also seen that documentary.  This sound like the message of Isaiah today, that a time will come when the wolf shall be a guest to the lamb, and a baby shall play by the cobra’s den without being hurt. Naturally this sound impossible. And many of us may also have read some philosophers who came to a conclusion that “man is made to be wolf to man.” But with God coming to us in Christ, in the Holy Eucharist, in the Holy Scriptures, walking by our side each day, everything is possible for those who trust and love Him. And that is you and I.
To me this imagery of a Cobra playing with a baby harmlessly or a wolf visiting with a lamb without hurting highlights the message of this Second Sunday of Advent and opens up what Christ has brought for us at Christmas, namely, God’s justice, peace (Isa 11:1-10), harmony (Rom 15:4-9) reconciliation and His divine promises to those who love Him, and are prepared for repentance, conversion, and renewal (Matt 3:1-12).  Today we step up our celebration of what God has done for us in the past, what God is doing for us now and the hope of what God shall continue to do for us. It challenges us not to be harmful to one another by words, actions and thoughts.
Advent continues to be the time we tap into and meditate on those fine qualities virtues of Our Blessed Mother Mary- her Humility, Purity, Patience and Endurance.  Mary waited so patiently for the birth of Christ. He endured through the ridicule of her pregnancy and the threat on the life of Christ.  No wonder the feast of the Immaculate Conception is coming up soon within this Advent on December 8th.   John the Baptist humbly knows that before Christ he is not even worthy to carry Jesus’ sandals (Matt 3:11). What and exemplary life of humility! Advent continues to provide us with an opportunity to listen to the prophets, like Isaiah, Zephaniah, and John the Baptist and imitate their life- styles as much as we can. They are models of humility, honesty, peace and endurance, which we all need.
Last Sunday Prophet Isaiah Spoke peace, “no more wars” (Isa 2:1-5) as if he was having North and South Koreans in mind or warring neighbors and nations that have no peace. He spoke of reconciliation and brightness of our Christian hope that come to us with Christ at Christmas and at the Parousia, symbolized by those candles on our Advent wreath. No doubts the message of the prophets lives in our daily lives, homes and hearts.
Today Isaiah insists that “a shout shall sprout from the stump of Jesse and from its roots a bud shall blossom.” And the Jesse Tree is right here in front of us reminding us of our root and all that God has done for us in our lives journeys. During this Advent Isaiah wants us to stay on top of our salvation history.  God promised freedom to those – Israelites who were trapped in Egypt and under the dictatorship and colonialism of their foreign neighbors.  He blessed them with King David, Jesse’s son and reassured them that a future Messiah, Jesus, shall come from the tribe of David, the son of Jesse--- “the Jesse Tree.”
Christ from this tribe comes to us at Christmas with the spirit of Wisdom and Understanding for us when we are a little confused or surrounded with misunderstanding. Think of how many times we would hear somebody say; “oh I misspoke or I misunderstood him or her or my child misbehaves.”  Christ brings for us the spirit of understanding and good behaviors. He comes with the spirit of counseling and strength for us who are weak (Isa 11:2). How many times do we not feel weak or tired of doing a particular thing? It could be our responsibilities at home, church, school or duties or routines in our places of work, or even our prayer lives. In this Season through Christmas, Jesus brings with Him for us the spirit of the fear of the Lord, especially when we are confronted with all kinds of temptations, discouragement, idolatry or feeling that we can do without God and even disharmony as suggested by St. Paul in today’s Second Reading. Paul Says, “welcome one another, as Christ would have welcome us for the glory of God” (Rom 15:4-9).
We are another Christ- Alter Christus- call to be the conduit of love, understanding, wisdom, counseling, justice, hope, faith, fear of the Lord to those who are in need. Just as Christ came to judge the poor with justice we are invited to deal with our neighbors, anybody we meet on the way with justice, fairness while remaining faithful to God. We are invited to imitate Mary and John and the prophets our Advent’s models by being humble in our dealings with one another. We are invited to trust in God and bear good fruits as evidence of our repentance without presuming to say that “we have Abraham as our father” (Matt 3:1-12). Or taking our gifts or our Christian calling for granted.
 An authentic conversion is a supernatural gift from God. It is the fruit of God’s call and the work of God’s grace.  As John the Baptist, the Precursor of Christ rightly said, it comes with the baptism of the Holy Spirit which enables us to straighten our spiritual paths in answer to the obedience of faith, allowing Christ to be the centre of our lives.
As we wait for Christ, let us dress ourselves up with the belt of justice, patience, peace and humility and put on the sandals of hope and love for God through the way we relate daily with one another.
Peace be with You!