Saturday, December 6, 2014

Homily(2) 2nd Sunday of Advent Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily(2) 2nd Sunday of Advent Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Isaiah 40: 1-5, 9-11; Ps 85: 9-14; 2 Pet 3:8-14 and Mark 1:1-8

  Faith in God’s Fidelity,

Advent which began last week is a time of preparation for Christmas. It is also a time we renew our faith and hope in  the second coming of Christ. Unlike lent, it is not a time for reflection on Jesus passion and death, but a time  we re-live the message of  hope, optimism,  expectation and call  for preparedness proclaimed by Israel's prophets, from Isaiah to John the Baptist.

 Surely, preparedness for Christmas stands out during Advent. How do we prepare in the midst of all the problems of life- political, social, economic etc? Scripture readings of today suggest ways for Christmas' preparation. The four readings urge us to use our religious imagination and look forward to the future with hope, faith, humility, practice of justice, righteousness, pursuit of peace, and courage no matter the challenges that we encounter daily in life. Watchfulness, alertness and some sense of eagerness and urgency for compassion are also required on every believer’s journey!

 In the 586/7 BC the Babylonians military had overrun Jerusalem and destroyed the temple there. Second Isaiah had every reason to “proclaim” this message of hope and comfort to those displaced in exile. Despite all the destruction, disappointments and set-backs around him Isaiah was clearly called to proclaim, or “cry- out” the message of comfort and hope of salvation to his people, hoping to walk the long highway, from Babylon to Jerusalem, the Holy land.  Getting there, Jerusalem shall be rebuilt and the Lord will be like a good shepherd feeding, tendering and caring for his flock in the rebuilt Jerusalem. Even though In Isaiah it is the Lord that leads the way, with care and comfort, Isaiah” calls us to play our part on this long journey. Imagine yourself setting out on a journey, on foot, especially, in those ancient days, with dusty, hilly and rough paths. Naturally, you would naturally need to prepare physically, materially, psychologically and mentally. As a believer you need to prepare spiritually, by trusting in God’s Fidelity, the leader of  our faith journeys!

The Second Reading (2 Peter 3:8-14) builds  on the message of  Isaiah.  As a way of preparing for Christmas, it emphasizes devotion, sense of urgency, justice, righteousness and peace. It says,  “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved by fire,…since everything is to be dissolved in this way….conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of the God,… in which righteousness dwells, and be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace” (2 Pt 3:8–14).

Mark’s Gospel also makes a direct reference to the prophet Isaiah saying, “behold sending my messenger  ahead of you; he will prepare your way, a voice of one crying out in the desert, prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths (Mark 1:3//Isaiah 40:3).

In the case of Mark, John the Baptist is the servant not Isaiah. But what Isaiah announced thousands of years ago is what John the Baptists proclaimed from the desert, during his time. It is the same, but renewed  message of  preparedness for the Lord, through repentance, baptism, conversion, humility, justice and faith in the one mightier than him!

In a pluralistic world of today, with various socio-cultural, and political challenges, including  threats  of war, ISIS, Boko Haram, Ebola, and terrorism, poverty, the gap between the "haves" and the have-nots," there are still many other ways we can prepare for Christmas. But what have been suggested in today's scriptures are achievable  provided we placed our faith and trust in God’s fidelity. Once we become fully convinced of God’s faithfulness, then our lives takes on a new spirit of hope and optimism, as we prepare for Christmas!