Theme: LET US PREPARE FOR THE COMING OF JESUS CHRIST AT CHRISTMAS
- Isaiah 40:l-5, 9-11
- Psalm 84-9-14. R. v. 8
- 2 Peter 3:8-14
- Mark 1:1-8
Today is the second Sunday of Advent. Advent as we know means “arrival” or “coming”. We also know that at his ﬁrst coming Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit. He gave us his grace, his love, his peace and his joy. In philosophy we know that these non-material spiritual qualities belonging only to God and humans who can think and love cannot die. They continue eternally in heaven. Like God, they have no beginning and end because they come from God! When these spiritual qualities of love, peace and joy which comes from God the Holy Spirit and from God’s grace, become full, fulﬁlled, complete and perfect in us, Jesus Christ will come a second time to take us to heaven!
But between Jesus Christ’s ﬁrst and second coming there are thousands of years! Jesus Christ will not forget or abandon us during this time of thousands of years! He will continue to come and help us. He will continue to give us his Holy Spirit, his grace, his love and his joy. He will continue to help us grow in his grace, his love and his joy, until they become complete and perfect in us. And when his grace and love become perfect in us, he will come a second time to take us to heaven!
That is why we celebrate Christmas every year and at the beginning of every liturgical year. This is because Jesus Christ continues to come every year, every month, every week and every day! And Advent is a time to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas!
The first reading tells us that when the Lord comes at Christmas, he will come with power, subduing all things to him and he will come victorious with all his trophies before him! But more importantly, his power and victory are power and victory of love and mercy! That is why the same last paragraph of the ﬁrst reading today tells us that he is the shepherd who feeds his ﬂock, who carries the lambs in his arms close to his breast, and he leads the mother sheep to their rest!
The historical context of this ﬁrst reading was the Israelites in exile in Babylon in the 6th century, waiting to return home to the Promised Land.
This theme of God’s coming love and mercy is taken up in the responsorial psalm. Thus the responsorial psalm tells us that when the Lord comes there will be peace, justice and mercy! The whole world today is looking for justice and peace, but the Pope (John Paul II) in his New Year’s message this year tells us that there can be no peace without justice, and more importantly, there can be no justice without forgiveness! In fact this is the very theme of his message! The Pope had in mind the present conﬂict between the Israelites and the Palestinians in the Holy Land today!
Indeed the psalm today tells us that when the Lord comes there will not only be peace and justice, but most importantly, there will also be mercy and forgiveness! More than that, the responsorial psalm also tells us that when the Lord comes, there will also be prosperity and the earth will yield its fruits!
The last stanza of the responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord will provide not only for our spiritual needs, but our material needs as well! “The Lord will make us prosper and our earth shall yield its fruit.” Today we cannot and must not take our earth ~ mother earth – for granted! With all the environmental pollution, destruction of the rainforest, poisoning of the earth, pollution of the air and sea, ete., the earth may not yield its fruit!
In his New Year’s Day message in 1990 on the environment, the Pope reminded us of Genesis 3:l7ff & 4:11, where it is written that after the fall of Adam and Eve, the earth will not yield its fruit, but it will yield thorns and thistles instead!
Our sins today do not only offend God and neighbour, but it also offends the earth and the environment! It is what we call environmental sins!
The Gospel today tells us that when Jesus Christ comes at Christmas he will baptize us with the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit is God the Holy Spirit. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one and the same God!
A Catholic who was a former student of a teacher who belonged to another religion told me that the teacher ridiculed Christianity for believing in three Gods and eating God! My reaction was to thank God for the faith to believe in a God of love and mercy! Our God loved us and created us, loved us and saved us, and today continues to love us and continues to sanctify us! We do not believe in three Gods, but we believe in three persons in one God, because God is love. The mystery of the Trinity is the mystery of God’s love! Again, we believe in a God who loves us and became man, became a criminal, a thief, became death, and became Food for sinners, so that he becomes us and we become him! Salvation is 100% – not 99% – God’s love and God’s grace!
Again, the gospel today tells us that when Jesus Christ comes at Christmas he will baptize us with God the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit is the ﬁre of God’s love that burns away our sins and saves us! Fr. John Reilly, an Australian theologian who gave a retreat to our priests many years ago tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Holy Love of God! He also conducted a penitential service with our priests where we wrote our sins on pieces of paper, showed them to our confessors and burned them with the ﬁre of God’s love from the Paschal candle!
The second reading from the second letter of Peter tells us that when the Lord comes there will be a new heavens and a new earth, i.e. not only we and our earth will be renewed, but the whole universe will be renewed! The stars and planets and galaxies will all be renewed! The heavens refer to the stars and planets! And if there are aliens and E.T.s, they will all be renewed! Tonight if we go out at about l0 p.m. we should be able to see the biggest star, the brightest star, the planet Saturn, and a little later, the planet Jupiter, and a little earlier, the Andromeda Galaxy, etc.. All these and the whole universe will be made new! The second reading employs very rich imageries of stars and planets burning up — which are not scientiﬁc – t0 tell us that the whole cosmos and universe will be made new by Jesus Christ’s coming!
The second reading also tells us that as we wait for the coming of Jesus Christ, we have to prepare ourselves by living good, godly, saintly and holy lives. We must not commit sins!
The gospel also tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. In the gospel, John the Baptist prepares the people for the coming of Jesus Christ by asking them to repent, to confess their sins and to be baptized with water. John the Baptist himself led a penitential life. He wore a garment of camel-skin and he ate locusts and wild honey and he lived in the wilderness!
The Church today asks us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas by praying, attending masses on Sundays (some people do not come to mass every Sunday) and weekdays, by going to confession (penitential services in the parishes), by penance (no parties, except on Sundays, e.g. no marriages during Advent), by doing good works, by doing works of mercy, by becoming Santa Claus to the poor, the weak, the aged, the children, the sick, the marginalized, etc., by proclaiming the good news to others through Christmas carolling, etc.!
A Happy Advent to all of you! Amen!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.