Sunday, 4 December 2022 : Second Sunday of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday is the Second Sunday of the season of Advent. We gather together this Sunday to prepare ourselves for the coming of the joyous celebrations of Christmas as we should have done throughout this past week of the Advent time. This Sunday marks the time when we have to reflect on whether we have indeed understood the true importance and significance of Christmas, and whether we are able to deepen our connection and relationship with God, through our spiritual preparations and willingness to open our hearts and minds to welcome the Lord into them. Through the passages of the Sacred Scriptures we have just heard, we are reminded to return our focus on the Lord this Advent and Christmas, and to rededicate ourselves to Him and to His cause.

This Sunday, as with all the Sundays of Advent, we focus on one particular Aspect of Advent, and that is Peace for this Sunday. Peace is an important aspect of our Advent and later on Christmas celebrations, as we remind ourselves that Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, Whose Nativity or birth we commemorate in Christmas, is the Prince of Peace. The Lord’s coming will usher in the new age of peace, harmony and cooperation, and there will be no more discord between everyone. However, it does not mean that the Lord’s coming immediately will lead to cessation of all conflicts, wars and destructions caused by our actions in this world. Instead, what is promised and guaranteed is that, when the Lord comes again at the end of time, He shall bring unto us everlasting peace, as He will free us from the bondage of sin, evil and death for all eternity.

As we heard from our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard of the prophecy of Isaiah regarding the coming of the Messiah or the Saviour of God, Who has been prophesied to belong to the line and house of David, as Isaiah spoke of the Shoot that would rise from the stump and Root of Jesse. Jesse was David’s father, and hence one the ancestors of the Lord, as the Lord Jesus was born into the House of David as his Heir, just as the prophecy of Isaiah had mentioned. Through His foster-father St. Joseph, the Lord Jesus is the direct Heir and the One Who will sit on the Throne of David, as the King over all of His people. Back then, the people of God awaited the coming of the Messiah or Saviour, Who was told to be the Son and Heir of David, not realising that a Baby born in Bethlehem that time, was indeed the long awaited Saviour.

That is because they expected their Saviour to be a mighty conquering King, sent by the Lord to end their misery and to gather all of them into a liberation campaign against their oppressors and rulers, reestablishing the glorious kingdom of the days of David and Solomon. They did not realise that while it is God’s intention to lead all of His beloved and faithful ones to eternal glory and peace, that will yet happen in the future and not at the time of His first coming into this world. That Child born in the poor stable in the outskirts of Bethlehem, rejected by all the innkeepers and others, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, is therefore God’s instrument through Whom He would restore the link between Him and mankind, long sundered by our disobedience and sins, our wickedness and evils.

Through Christ, His own begotten Son, born into this world, Son of God and the Divine Word Incarnate, God willingly revealed Himself and the fullness of His love to all of us, restoring the true meaning and purpose of His Law and commandments, and restoring the Covenant which had been forsaken and neglected between Him and His people. Christ is the One mentioned by the prophet Isaiah as the One Who will be the Judge of all the peoples of all the nations, and He would indeed be a Sign to all of them, raised up high for all to see. No one back at the time of the prophet Isaiah all the way to the time of the Lord Jesus Himself could have foreseen what this actually meant, until the moment when the Lord took up His Cross, with all the sufferings and pains, the punishments due to all of us, and chose to be raised on that Cross, to be the salvation for the whole entire world.

Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, the salvation of all the peoples and the nations have been revealed and brought as assurance to us, because He willingly assumed the role as the Mediator of a New and Everlasting Covenant between us and God. He is the Eternal High Priest Who offered nothing less than His own Most Precious Body and Blood, as the Lamb of God, the Paschal Lamb slaughtered and sacrificed on the Altar of the Cross, to be the worthy offering and sacrifice for the atonement of all of our sins. That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, just as we reflect on the Aspect of Peace of Advent in this Sunday, we are reminded that through Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, we have been made as the sharers of a new and everlasting Peace between us and God.

Through the outpouring of His Most Precious Blood and through the shedding of His Most Precious Body, Christ Our Lord has become the fulfilment of all that the Lord has promised His people, just as St. Paul briefly mentioned it in our second reading today in his Epistle to the Romans. Through Christ, Whose birth we rejoice in and commemorate in Christmas, we see the power of God liberating all of us from the bondage and dominion of sin, evil and death, as by His incarnation and assumption of our humanity and existence, and by dying on the Cross, He shared with all of us the death to our past existence and sinful lives, and by His glorious Resurrection, He proved to us that death does not have the final say over us, and that there is life and existence beyond death, which we shall share with Him on the end of times, the last days, forevermore.

By His most generous offering of love on the Cross, the Lord Jesus our Saviour truly had brought His Peace upon us, the Peace that God has promised His people, the peace of knowing that we have been reconciled with God, and that we shall enjoy the bounty and blessings of eternal life and true joy with Him, at the end of our journey, if we are truly faithful to Him. While that peace is yet incomplete at the moment, due to sin still being present all around us in our world past, present and future, but we have to hold on to that faith, believing that at the time of His choosing, He shall come again in glory as promised, and will bring unto us the perfect and everlasting Peace, that will last and endure forever, when evil will finally be utterly defeated and crushed, and no more tears, sorrow or suffering will remain in the world to come.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what we then need to do now is to make good use of this season of Advent to prepare ourselves that we may worthily celebrate the upcoming joy of Christmas. Each and every one of us are reminded that it is often our preoccupations with worldly desires and glory, and the temptations all around us which often distracted us and misled us in the journey towards the Lord. In our Gospel passage today, we heard St. John the Baptist calling on all the people to return towards the Lord with faith, embracing His compassion and mercy, and to be changed in the heart and mind as they received baptism of water from him, as a sign of commitment to follow the path of the Lord. Many came to St. John the Baptist seeking to be baptised and showing their sincerity in embracing God’s love and mercy.

But there were also those who doubted him and refused to believe in him, like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who came to St. John the Baptist and questioned him on the authority and the legitimacy of his actions, essentially questioning and doubting the works and wisdom of the Lord and the Holy Spirit, Who guided St. John the Baptist to do what he had done, in preparing the way for the coming of the Messiah, the Saviour of the world. It was therefore of those same people that St. John the Baptist rebuked with very strong words like ‘brood of vipers’ and telling them off for their pride and ego, by which they closed their hearts and minds against God’s truth, and misleading the people of God under their care by their own vanity, greed and desire for worldly power and glory. This same reminder is also directed at all of us, brothers and sisters, that we do not end up walking down the same path as they had done.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us make good use of this time and season of Advent therefore to prepare ourselves well for the celebration of the birth of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. Let us all remember how our Prince of Peace had brought God’s Peace into our midst, returning the peace between us and God, and leading us on the way towards His everlasting peace, joy and glory. As we prepare ourselves to celebrate Our Lord’s coming into this world, let us not forget that we do not just remember His past arrival into this world, two millennia ago, but in fact we also rejoice because of His eventual coming in glory, that we all await, when He shall judge all the living and the dead, and bring all those whom He deems to be worthy, into His eternal kingdom of true bliss and happiness in His presence.

May the Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour and King, continue to guide us and strengthen us in faith, particularly during this time and season of Advent, so that each and every one of us may indeed make good use of this time and opportunity to reaffirm our faith in Him and to prepare ourselves well in all aspects so that we may indeed make best use of the upcoming time and season of Christmas, and celebrate it most properly and worthily, becoming inspiration for all of our fellow brothers and sisters, by our lives’ examples and good works. May God bless us all in our every good works, efforts and deeds, and may He bless us in our every endeavours for the greater glory of His Name. Let us bring God’s Peace into the midst of our communities and families, and may Peace reign forevermore in our Christian family. Amen.

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