FEASTING ON THE WORD
"If you meditate on the Scriptures it will appear to you in its brilliant splendor." ―St. Pio of Pietrelcina
Second Sunday of Advent (A)
Isaiah 11:1-10 | Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17 | Romans 15:4-9 | Matthew 3:1-12
The liturgy of the Second Sunday of Advent focuses on the themes of renewal, peace, harmony and focus on Jesus.
Jude sees Grace sitting on a park bench with a dog laying next to her. Jude asks Grace, "Does your dog bite?" Grace replies "no." Jude proceeded to pet the dog, who then jumps up and bites his hand. Pressing his bleeding hand and with tears streaming from his eyes, Jude cries "I thought you said your dog doesn't bite!" Grace responds "That's not my dog."
When the Messiah comes, the world will be a place of peace, where predators and prey will sit down to family dinner together. The lamb invites the wolf to her tea party, leopards and goats take naps together, calves and young
lions eat at the same table, and little babies play in the dirt outside the cobra’s hole! The prophet Isaiah writes about a leader who will act as agent in the world’s transformation.“ This "shoot" will spring from the fallen tree of Jesse and will establish a new kingdom. He will not focus on rebuilding the earthly kingdom of David in Palestine, but on restoring harmony and peace in God’s creation. He will restore complete harmony that existed at the beginning of creation in the garden of Eden according to God’s original intent and design (Genesis 2).
Fr Sireneo, a Roman Catholic Priest, Fr William, an Anglican clergyman and Pastor Apollo, an evangelical preacher were standing near a river discussing which church was most faithful to the teaching of God. Fr Sireneo said that there was no argument that the Roman Catholic church descended directly from the Apostles. In fact Peter was their first Pope. He said, "Catholicism has the fullness of God's revelation. Our faith is based on the Scriptures, Oral Tradition and the Teaching Authority of the Church. In fact, I can even walk on water like Jesus!" And he proceeded to walk on the water to the other side. The Fr William said, "The English church share its origin with the Catholics and I, too, can demonstrate my ability to walk on water like Jesus Christ." And he proceeded to walk on the water to the other side. Pastor Apollo said, "I couldn't care how your churches came about. I studied the word and preached it purely without any embellishments. Since you could walk on water I should be even better at it. Only faith is necessary to do that!" He took one step forward and sunk knee deep into the river. And the Fr Sireneo whispered to Fr William, "Do you think we should tell him where the rocks are?"
The first Christians came from either Jewish or Gentile traditions. As such they had so much differences, and these differences often led to conflict. Before they came to know Christ, they didn't like each other at all. In fact, Jews and Gentiles wouldn't even talk to each other. And even after they came to know Christ, their different ways of looking at things brought them into conflict, particularly in dietary matters. In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul teaches that the true Christian community anticipates and participates in this renewed creation through harmony among its members. He prays for Christians to have greater unity and harmony with one another. To be a genuine Christian is to open one's embracing arms to those who otherwise are strangers and even enemies. Therefore, both Jews and Gentiles, though coming from different traditions, must glorify God as one on account of the salvation thet mutually found in Christ Jesus. Kapuwang kapatid, may kagalit ka pa ba? Magpa-Pasko na, alitan at tampuhan ay tapusin na.
An old man died and approaches the pearly gates of Heaven. "Well, what have you done to deserve entry to Heaven?", asks St. Peter. "To be honest," replies the man. "I am merely a simple carpenter. It was my son who was truly great. Although he wasn't my biological son...his birth was miraculous, still I loved him very much. Later in life, he went through many trials and transformations. He spread joy and his story is told all over the world even to this day." Jesus looks at the man, with a tear in his eye, and says "Father?". The man looks back. "...Pinocchio?"
John plays a unique role in the history of salvation. We call him the Baptist, the Voice crying out in the wilderness. Our Gospel, invites us to consider John the Baptist and his relationship to Jesus. John appears in Judea preaching a message of repentance. He makes very clear that his relationship to the Messiah yet to come is one of service and subservience: “. . . the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals” (Matthew 3:11). He was important because he instructed the people how to prepare for Jesus' coming. But he was not as important as Jesus was. According to him, he was not the superstar, only a supporting actor. John's preaching of the coming of the Lord is a key theme of the Advent season. He abounds with joy over himself getting smaller and Jesus getting bigger. For him, the voice of the Shepherd must replace the voice crying in the wilderness. As his message prepared the way for Jesus in the first century, we, too, are called to prepare ourselves for Jesus' coming by naming whatever it is in our life that crowds out Jesus as we pray, “More of Jesus… Less of me…” The holiday season can get us too much busy with ourselves with all the party preparations, gift buying, reunions, travels and commitments. Christmas is a season to focus on Jesus. When Jesus becomes greater in the world and we become lesser in the world, our joy will increase. <enrique,ofs>
Jeff Jacinto, PhD, DHum