Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Second Sunday of Advent, all of us are called to serve the Lord and be His faithful servants, committing ourselves to be good Christians that are exemplary in our actions and be good role models for one another. All of us as we enter into this blessed season of Advent, we are all reminded to refocus our attention to the Lord so that our lives may once again be aligned with God, His path and His truth. All of us should trust in the Lord and the hope that He has brought upon us.
In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Baruch, we heard the words of the Lord spoken through the prophet Baruch regarding Jerusalem and the people of God. The prophet Baruch was a friend and contemporary of the prophet Jeremiah, a renowned prophet who lived during the last years of the kingdom of Judah, the southern half of the kingdom of Israel, which by that time was about to be swallowed and destroyed by the powerful Babylonians. It was truly a difficult time for the people of God, beset by various troubles and hardships.
At that time, the fortune of the people of God was reaching its lowest point, and it seemed that God had abandoned His people, but in truth, He had not. Why so? That was precisely why the prophets Jeremiah, Baruch and many other prophets were sent to the Israelites, to remind the people that the Lord has always been with them and He has always so faithfully and patiently been journeying with them even though they had often disobeyed Him and wandered off on their own path, not listening to those prophets and messengers that had been sent to them.
God had always been patient in seeking for His people, as He never ceased to seek for them and held on to the hope that they would come to see the errors of their ways and be reconciled with Him, that at least some of them would eventually be reconciled with Him and be saved. After all, He still loved them as much and cared for them nonetheless. Each and every one of us are precious in the sight of God, without exception, and all of us must be grateful that God has always had His sight on us and never abandoned us, even in our darkest and most difficult moments.
Through the prophet Baruch, God revealed to His beloved ones His faithfulness to the Covenant which He had made with them, and He also showed them a glimpse of the glory that all of His faithful ones shall receive, all of us included, at the end of days, when He shall gather all of us and lead us triumphant into the eternal life of true happiness and glory that He has promised to us all, and which He has assured all of us, despite the trials and challenges, the opposition, oppressions and hardships that we often had to endure.
We must not forget how God rescued His beloved people from the land of Egypt, when they were enslaved and made to suffer there by the Egyptians and their Pharaoh, who humiliated and oppressed them, and even made a pointed attempt to try to eliminate them all as a nation. God led His people out of that slavery, sending forth His servant Moses and punishing Egypt with ten great plagues and destroying their armies and chariots, through wonders after wonders, by which God rescued His people and led them to the land He has promised to them. This was what God also reminded His people through His prophets, Baruch included.
In our Gospel today, we heard the words about the reign of the Roman Emperor Tiberius, during whose reign the Lord’s salvation for His people finally came into being as He sent His servant St. John the Baptist, who began his ministry among the people of God, calling on all of them to repent and turn away from their sinful ways, and reminding them all that the Lord’s kingdom was already close at hand. He essentially reiterated word by word what the prophet Baruch spoke of regarding of the coming of God and His salvation, renewing God’s promises to His people. This happened when the people at that time were becoming increasingly worried over the encroaching Roman influence and dominance over the land.
And not only just that, but this time, God Himself walked on this world, coming down in the fulfilment of His long awaited promise, as prophesied by the many prophets and messengers that He had earlier sent among His people, and as heralded by St. John the Baptist as mentioned. The Lord manifested His ultimate and perfect love for each and every one of us by His coming into this world, in assuming His human existence in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, the Holy One of God, proclaimed by the prophets, and the One to save us all, the Son of God and Son of Man.
And in our second reading today, as St. Paul wrote in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Philippi in Greece, he reminded us all of the assurance of God’s love that He has shown through Christ, and which He shall fulfil in all perfection at the end of days, exhorting all of us the faithful to live our lives in a most virtuous Christian manner, in obeying God’s will, His laws and commandments, in doing our best to be exemplary and inspirational in how we live our lives with utmost faith in God.
Just as we heard and reflected today how God had repeatedly shown His love for us, and showed with many concrete examples, even manifesting His love in the flesh, and dedicating His love to us by suffering and dying on the Cross for us, that is why all of us as Christians, we have to reflect on this love that God has most generously given us, and think of how we can live our lives such that we may indeed be truly worthy of God’s love and grace. We do this by appreciating His love, welcoming His kindness and compassion towards us, and seeking Him with all our hearts and strength.
Today, on this Second Sunday of Advent, we focus on the aspect of Peace in Advent, in Our Lord as the Prince of Peace and the Bearer of the everlasting peace and harmony. Just as last Sunday we reflect on the aspect of God’s Hope that came through Christ, this Sunday we reflect on the Peace that God has bestowed on us through His coming into this world. Why this Peace, brothers and sisters in Christ? And what does it mean by us having God’s Peace? What is peace all about? How is it significant for us?
It is the true Peace that God alone can bring us because in God alone we shall find consolation and fulfilment, help and true redemption. Through Him alone we shall be freed in the end from all troubles and from all pain and sorrow. Just as the people at the time of Baruch were very worried about their fate and the fate of their kingdom and just as the people at the time of St. John the Baptist were increasingly worried over their subjugation by the Romans and the threat of the destruction of their nation and way of life, we too are often worried because we worry that we may not get what we desired and wanted in life.
Through Christ, God has revealed that we should not and we must not be worried, because God has revealed to us His Peace and assurance, and there is nothing else more assuring and more promising to us than the Lord and His salvation. The world may betray us and fail us, our wealth, possessions, power, fame, friends and relationships may fail us and abandon us, but God will always be by our side, no matter what happens. If only that we have more faith and trust in the Lord and allow Him to guide us, and if only more people had learnt to appreciate more His truth and love.
Unfortunately, many people have not realised this, and they all still worry all the time about their lives, their appearances and worldly concerns, their desires and ambitions among many others. And this is why many could not truly find real peace in their lives. As long as our faith in God is non-existent or is not strong and firm, we can easily be swayed by the many hardships, temptations and pressure for us to give up our faith and commitment to God. That is certainly not something that we should be doing in our lives.
In our world today, as we are still reeling from the terrible effects of the currently ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and as many people have yet to recover and some are still even suffering more and more from the direct and indirect effects from this terrible event, all of us are reminded that all is not lost for us. I am sure that many among us are worried about our livelihood and what is to come for us, especially if we have lost our jobs and occupations, our ‘rice bowl’ that provided sustenance and support to us and our beloved ones. However, we must not give in to fear and anxiety, and instead, we should hold on all the firmer to the Lord and His promised salvation. In Him, we can find true peace and freedom from our many worries, fears and uncertainties.
That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, how we act and do things in our lives, especially with so many tragedies and hardships happening all around us, is very, very important indeed. As Christians, we have all received the truth about God’s love and the hope, peace and joy that He has brought into this world. If we ourselves are lukewarm in our faith and did not have full trust in the Lord, then how can we expect more people to believe in the Lord and His truth? How can we be the bearers of peace, God’s Peace to all our fellow brethren, when we ourselves are in constant state of turmoil in our hearts and minds?
All of us are the beacons of God’s light, brothers and sisters in Christ, and we are the bearers of God’s true Peace, called to be His witnesses among the nations. In our every day living actions, words and deeds, in our every interactions, works and efforts, we have to reveal more and more about the Lord to our fellow brethren, especially those who have yet to receive His truth and those who had lapsed from the Christian faith. Through us and our actions, all of us are called to be the messengers of Peace, to be the ones to spread this true peace of God throughout this world.
Are we willing and able to do so, brothers and sisters in Christ? And how are we going to spend the rest of this season of Advent and even further on to the season of Christmas and even beyond? Is our Christmas going to be one of excessive merrymaking and partying, of us competing with one another who can make the better Christmas celebrations? Is our Christmas going to be filled with a lot of festive mood and grand celebrations, and yet we do not find peace through them?
Instead, are we going to make our Christmas more about the One Whom Christmas is truly about, He Whose Name gave Christmas its meaning? Are we going to make Christmas truly about Christ, the Prince of Peace, Who has brought the Lord’s peace and harmony into this world? Let us ponder these questions carefully and discern in our hearts how each and every one of us will prepare ourselves throughout the remaining days of Advent, so that our Christmas joy and celebration will be a truly blessed and meaningful one.
There are many out there who are in need of our help, our encouragement and companionship. Whenever we see someone else suffering, we should sympathise with them and try to help us as best as we can. God has also given many among us the time, opportunity and talents to help us out in these good works and endeavours. Amidst the uncertainties and fears that we face all around us, especially recently, can we be that source of consolation and the bearers of God’s peace to those who are worried, uncertain and suffering?
May the Lord, the Prince of Peace, the Peace that comes at Christmas, be with us always so that we may also find this true peace and love that exists in God alone. May God bless our many actions and deeds, our works and efforts to spread the Good News and the truth that He has revealed to us. May He bestow on us, our loved ones and all, one day, in His presence, the gift of true and everlasting peace. Amen.