Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, the second one in the season of Advent, we continue to prepare ourselves for the upcoming celebration and joy of Christmas. The Scripture passages today all spoke of the coming of a time of grace and happiness, hope and redemption for the people of God, for all those who have kept the faith and remained true to the Lord.
The first reading today was taken from the Book of the prophet Baruch, which speaks of the coming deliverance for Jerusalem, which represent the people of God, Israel, who have been suffering for many years, if we understand the context and history in which all these took place. The glorious kingdom of Israel, of David and Solomon was by the time of the prophet Baruch, a distant memory, and the people of God had been fragmented and scattered, overcame by their enemies and enslaved once again.
The Psalm today spoke of the same deliverance that was to come from God for the people of Israel, the coming deliverance of Zion, that by the power of God a new era would come, where the exile of the people would come to an end, and they would once again be reunited with one another and with God. This was made in the context of the exile of the Israelites after the destruction of their kingdoms, both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah.
At that time, the people of God who once proudly called themselves the chosen people of God and as the people of David’s kingdom, could no longer looked at themselves with pride, for they have been downtrodden and left to suffer many injustice, indignation, pain and tribulations, all because of their own disobedience against God and His ways. Because of their sins, they have sundered themselves from God’s grace.
But God, as seen through what we have heard, and what He has done for the sake of His people, is a truly patient and loving God, Who does not desire our destruction and damnation. He loved us all very much, and that was why He created us in the first place. If He has not loved us, He would not have created us. It is unfortunate that through our disobedience we have made ourselves to fall into this predicament.
That is why God gave us a way out of this predicament, by the promise and the sending of the Saviour, none other than Jesus Christ our Lord, Whose birth we celebrate every Christmas. But many did not recognise Him or accept Him as their Lord and Saviour. At the time of Jesus, there were many who doubted Him and refused to listen to Him, and instead persecuted and oppressed Him and His disciples.
And that is because the people hardened their hearts and minds, and stubbornly therefore refused to listen to God’s words and truth. That was why they remained in sin and committing more of the deeds that caused them to fall even further away from God. But God did not give up easily, and that was why He sent St. John the Baptist, whose words in the Gospel passage today rang very clearly in our minds, “Prepare the way for the Lord, make His path straight!”
St. John spoke up strongly against the sins of man and called the people to turn away from their sins, repenting sincerely from their erroneous path. And for those who hardened their hearts, like the Pharisees and king Herod, he had harsh words reminding them of the sins in their actions and in their hearts that prevented them from being able to serve the Lord and to follow Him as they should have done.
And that is, brothers and sisters in Christ, unfortunately what many of us today are suffering from as well. Throughout history, and until this very day, many of us, sons and daughters of man, have not been able to resist the many temptations of the world, the temptations of money, of power, of glory and fame, of pleasures of the flesh, immoral behaviour and many other forms of aberrations and wicked deeds that are abhorrent in the sight of God.
It was because of these sins that we have drifted further and further away from God, and unless we make the effort to allow God to forgive us our sins and to change our ways to be more in accordance to His ways and His will, then we are at risk of suffering the fate of eternal damnation, if we are found to be unworthy of God’s eternal glory and grace. And this time of Advent, this season of reorientation of our lives and recollection of our actions, is the best time for us to begin to make a difference.
We should begin by examining once again how we are preparing ourselves for the upcoming celebrations of Christmas. Many of us celebrate Christmas as how the world around us celebrate it, with much revelry and partying, with rejoicing and excesses. We flaunt our wealth and prosperity to one another, by trying to outdo each other in decorating our houses and places, in the lavishness and value of our gifts.
And we often grumble when our Christmas gifts are not up to our expectation, and if our celebrations are not as what we have prepared and expected. We worry a lot about what we are to cook up for our Christmas dinners, lunches and parties, about what we are to wear for the celebrations, and yet, while we worry about all these things, and think about how to outdo one another in our celebrations, do we realise that there are those, even in our midst, who have no means to celebrate Christmas?
There are those who are poor and penniless who cannot even celebrate Christmas, and even more so, they cannot even think of what is to come tomorrow, for they have little to even survive for the day’s meal. And then, there are also those who because of various reasons, especially oppression and persecutions, cannot even celebrate Christmas openly with joy and revelry. They live in constant fear of persecution and even death just for being a believer and follower of Christ.
And today, all of us are called to think of all these brethren of ours, even as we also need to reevaluate our lives and beginning from understanding better what Christmas and its significance is for our lives. Christmas is all about Christ and His saving love and grace for each and every one of us. God loves each and every one of us that He is willing to give everything, even His own Son, to suffer and die for our sake, by bearing the cross of our sins.
And if God has loved us so much, then now, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called then to love Him back with the same effort and sincerity. We are called to serve Him and to be as what He wants us to be, righteous and just in His presence. Thus, we should shun all forms of sin and disobedience that we have done so far in life, all the worldly excesses and resist the temptations to sin further.
We should also reflect and show the same love to our brethren, especially those who are poor and weak, those who are oppressed and in grief and sorrow. This is the true spirit of Christmas, that we, as God’s children, can show the same love that God, Our loving Father has shown us. And also, for all those who have done fault to us and hurt us, let us also forgive them their mistakes and sins against us.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, today, as we continue this Advent journey, let us first and foremost realise our sinfulness, and ask God to heal us and to forgive us from those sins and faults. Let us all draw ever closer to God and find our way to serve Him and to commit ourselves, through our love and generosity to our fellow brethren, by our way of life, upholding at all times the tenets of our faith in all of our daily actions and deeds. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.