Dec. 8, 2019 - 2nd Sunday of Advent
(Is 11:1-10; Rom 15:4-9; Mt 3:1-12)
In our secular world during this season we celebrate peace and joy, but John the Baptist asks us to repent. To repent is not just to realize we have done bad things. True repentance also entails turning toward those attributes and actions that will allow us to unite more closely with Our Lord. It involves an honest examination of conscience and a firm commitment to change. Isaiah urges us to look at our sinfulness and pride and honestly reflect on them in our hearts. Past kingly descendants of David were weak, unjust, and lacking in knowledge. The Messiah born in Bethlehem, the ancestral place of Jesse, will reign so clothed in justice, it will be a band around his waist. Like harmony in the animal kingdom, there will be harmony between the house of David and the Gentiles in the glorious dwelling “on that day.” Psalm 72 is a prayer to God to bless the King with God’s judgment and justice, and his son, too. Isaiah and Paul each speak of hope and harmony. Jews and Gentiles could not even eat together, and there was dissention among the many factions within Judaism. Believers who live in a state of endurance in the face of trials receive encouragement and hope from the word of God. God’s plan, and Paul’s hope, is that Jews and Gentiles, living in harmony, would sing praise to God’s name. John the Baptist is the man who stands at the seam of the Old Testament and the New. His appearance, clothing and actions are the same as Elijah’s, the greatest prophet of the Old Testament. His diet consists of locusts, which are symbolic of pestilence, and honey, which is the food of the Promised Land. John’s preaching is a forceful call to repentance (metanoia) that entails changes of thinking, attitudes, behavior, and relationships. John the Baptist’s most prominent virtue is humility. “I am not worthy to carry his sandals,” he says of Our Lord. Carrying one’s sandals at this time would be the work of a slave – and John sees himself as unworthy of even that office.