9 December: Second Sunday of Advent Year A
Readings: Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-9; Mt. 3:1-12
On this Second Sunday of Advent, the readings focus our attention on two key Advent themes: 1) call to conversion, and 2) call to wait in hope and trust for a kingdom of peace. Obviously, both themes are interrelated. In the Gospel of this Sunday, John the Baptist announces the message of repentance "for the Kingdom of Heaven is close at hand". John is recognized as the one prophet Isaiah spoke of saying, "Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight". This is the real meaning of Advent. We are called to conversion so that we will be ready to welcome the Kingdom of peace into our hearts; so that Christ may find a home in our hearts. The liturgy of the word therefore invites us to prepare ourselves spiritually, by being reconciled with God. That inner conversion should be so real that we are led to action; that we open our eyes to see the plight of the poor around us and to do something about it. The lesson we learn from the encounter between John the Baptist and some Jewish Religious leaders is important for pastoral action. John underlines spiritual reform - conversion, but that conversion has a far deeper meaning than we normally understand.
The second theme, waiting with hope and trust for a kingdom of peace is found in the both the first and second readings. Isaiah prophesied that out of the line of David would come a king who would establish justice and peace. This peace would be so great and genuine that natural enemies in animal kingdom like the wolf and the lamb would lie down next to one another, a beautiful image of harmony among God’s creation. That is the kingdom of peace John Baptist was preparing the people for when he said, “prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” The central point in John’s message of conversion is justice and social reform: transforming structures of sin as an important aspect of preparing “a way for the Lord”, and making his paths straight, so that God’s kingdom may be established. Advent ushers in the arrival of that kingdom. That is what we hope for. Paul reminds us that we are the people who do not give up; people who refuse to give up until all is realized in Christ. The message of today may be summed up in 4 short phrases: 1) reform your lives; 2) live in genuine peace; 3) so that the kingdom of peace may be realized; 4) never give up your hope.
©2007 John M. Mbinda