Homily 2nd Sunday of Advent Year C: Fr. Michael U. UdoekpoReadings: Baruch 5:1-9; Ps 126:1-6; Phil 1:4-6, 8-11 and Luke 3:1-6
When the Lord delivered Zion from Bondage It was like a dream (Ps 126)
This Psalm 126 sets the tone for the Bible lessons of- this 2nd Sunday of Advent. Granted that the history of Israel or humanity of all nations, continents and cultures has always been that of ups and downs, bondages, captivities, droughts, weeping, corruption, joys and sorrows, wars and famine, exile and freedom, Advent brings us hope. Advent reminds the global church, Christians everywhere to prepare for the Lord, the source of love, peace and joy! Advent also helps Christian everywhere count their blessings, past and present and endure all kinds of suffering patiently. It brings every Christian and believer hope in moments of mourning, hopelessness, deprivation and captivity!
The first reading from Baruch(Bar 5:1-9), though originally addressed to the Israelites in times of threats of hopelessness in exile could be spiritually appropriated by us, today’s Christians, and Catholics. Baruch whose names means, "that who has been blessed," addressed the distressed and very wearied Israelites, saying to them,
“Jerusalem take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory of God forever for God will show all the earth your splendor, you will be named by God forever the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship….the forest and every fragrant kind of tree have overshadowed Israel at God’s command; for God is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory, with his mercy and justice for company.” This justice and freedom came to be when the Persians, defeated the Babylonians and when God put love and kindness in the heart of King Cyrus who permitted the exiled Israelites to return and rebuild their lives and the once destroyed Temple of Solomon.
Truly, Baruch convey a message of hope and a futuristic language of the acknowledgement of God’s blessings dotted throughout the history of God’s relationship with his people--- “God will, God will, God will do this and that- for Israel.”!!! The Church, therefore invites us during Advent, from our various life situations, and continents of the world, to reflect on Baruch when we thought that we have been unfairly treated, marginalized, neglected, or unjustly deprived of our dignities, rights and freedom- even to pray, and worship.
Psalm 126 builds on Baruch’s. In verses 1-3 we are told,
“When the lord brought back the captives of Jerusalem, Zion, it was like a dream, then our mouth was filled with laughter and our tough with joy. Then they said among themselves the Lord has done great things for them, the Lord has done great things for us.”
Here there is a sense of lament, joy and also gratitude for God’s blessings to us in the past and present. Our future is in God’s hands. The more reason the Psalmist invites us to in moments of challenges be able pray: “Restore our fortunes, O lord, like the torrents in the Negev desert. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing. Although they shall go forth weeping, carrying the seed to be sown, they shall come back rejoicing, carrying their sheaves” (vv 4-6).
In other words, Israel hope, is our hope, which will never be in vain. Speaking of this hope, Paul addresses the Church in Philippi in the following pastoral words, “I pray always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day till now. I am confident this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Jesus Christ,” (Phil 1:4-6, 8-11).
In addition to these messages from Baruch, Psalm 126 and Paul, John the Baptist, a model of Advent, penultimately, in the Gospel (Luke 3:1-6) invites us- Christians everywhere- young and old, to prepare, to hope, to trust in the Lord, to mend our ways, forgive one another, endure sufferings, bad politics and governance, joblessness and lawlessness, poor health care and insurances, hardships, terrorism and threats of war with patience. Scriptures also invite us today to reach out to the poor, sow peace, love and mercy, not hatred and blames, so that when Christ comes both at Christmas and in the Parousia- in the final judgment we may not be strangers. Rather, we might be seen as familiar friends to Jesus, Our Lord, Master and Deliverer!