2nd. Sunday Of Advent – Year A.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“Change Your Hearts!”
On this second Sunday of Advent let us open up our hearts by removing all of our self-made barriers in our lives that are separating us from God and our neighbour.
The Lord came to us two thousand years ago, but he, like a young shoot still has to grow in a world plagued by selfishness and sin. Jesus has not yet been accepted in so many places and in so many situations. God in his ever-merciful love gives us ‘Advent’ as an opportunity to change our hearts and live a new life.
The first reading describes the new world that has already dawned and that it will be manifest when the ‘Advent of the Lord’ is achieved in all its fullness.
The second reading explains the feeling we must cultivate and foster as members of the Christian community so that the Lord may be able to visit it.
In today’s Gospel the Baptist tells us what we should do to prepare the way and to clear the road for the coming of our Saviour.
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible. These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests who have by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings. These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings. ‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
“In the Old Testament the ‘New’ is hidden. In the New Testament the ‘Old’ is laid open”.
Looking out on the world of his day, Isaiah sees nothing but political disaster on every front. Despite this, he knows that God will not let the people down. God will send them a leader who will lead them to victory. Not only does Isaiah foresee such a leader emerging from the ‘Davidic line’, he also foresees that under him a great and final victory will be gained. There will surely come an era of peace when the ‘wolf and the lamb will live together’, when the whole country will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, and ‘On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall
enquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.’
David, who lived about a thousand years before the birth of Christ, was the son of Jesse, a man of Bethlehem. His family, says the prophet, is like a large tree: Jesse and David are like the roots and the trunk, the other kings born from them are its branches and shoots. God had promised this family an eternal kingdom, but he would one day be forced to cut down this tree because of unfaithfulness.
Nevertheless a new shoot would rise from the root, a great ‘King’ full of the force of the Lord. This King would possess the best qualities of his family. He would be strong and powerful like David, wise like Solomon, he would be obedient and fear God like the Patriarchs, but above all he would be ‘just and defend the poor and the oppressed’. This promise was never fulfilled before the birth of Jesus who, as we read in the Gospel, Jesus is the expected descendant of the family of David.
In this text of Isaiah (vs. 2-3), ‘the six spirits’ were one of the main sources for what became known in the Christian tradition as the ‘seven gifts of the Holy Spirit’ in Catholic theology.
Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17.
The Psalm also offers a vision, of a newly crowned king, and some fairly sharp reminders about how he is to behave: ‘O God, give your judgment to the king, and your justice to the king’s son’. We may imagine the royal person bowing complacently at this gracious prayer, only to have the bubble pricked as he is firmly reminded that he must ‘judge your people in justice and your poor in right judgment’. There is a prayer for his kingdom to be absolutely vast: ‘from sea to sea; and from the Euphrates to the ends of the earth’. The concluding blessing only comes after a reminder ‘that he will rescue the poor when they call, and the oppressed who have no one to help them’.
In the second reading Paul also sounds a note of hope: “Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Paul recommends to all to be charitable, to show love and reciprocal respect. Jesus did not seek to please himself, but placed himself at the service of others. His disciples should be attentive to casino spiele the good of others and must be ready to set limits to their own freedom when this is demanded by charity. Acceptance of one another is the first step on the path of justice. People must not be rejected outright because of the way they look or talk, or who their parents were, what they may have done in the past, or what they have or lack. The norms of our world unfortunately teach us who’s in and who’s out. Paul says: Jesus came to change the rules. This world’s hell is heaven in the world to come, so whatever the cost of doing justice, consider it a gift for a place in God’s house in eternity by ‘His’ loving grace.
In the Gospel reading, John the Baptist heralds the coming of that leader whom Isaiah promised. He proclaims, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” In other words, God is about to fulfil the promise of salvation to all peoples.
In the ‘Kingdom of God’ we must express a condition of total submission to God, allowing God to be the sole Master in our lives and to control everything. God seeks to promote our lives and well-being but he will only succeed if we collaborate with him and allow our lives to be ‘God-centred’. We have to move away from ‘self-centredness’, which expresses itself in pride, hunger for possessions, power and prestige to an attitude of submission to God in total humility, and concern for other’s needs that Jesus had.
Matthew constantly quotes the Old Testament, especially the prophets. The birth of Jesus is seen as fulfilling the promises God made through the prophets. The prophet Isaiah is sometimes called the ‘fifth evangelist’ because he is so often quoted in the Gospels. The quotation in Mt 3:3 comes from Isaiah 40:3 (sometimes called the second Isaiah) which was written during the exile (586-536BC) to give a message of hope and consolation to the Israelites suffering in the prison camps of Babylon. They were led through the desert into captivity and suffering. Through the same desert they will be led back to liberation. This promise of old is now fulfilled in Jesus who leads his people into God’s kingdom.
Nobody is too important as not to need conversion. Those who think they know all about God, must return humbly to him and repent. John calls the whole of Israel without exception to a change of heart. If the people do not change, John the Baptist says they will be overcome by a catastrophe that will destroy Israel. When the Pharisees and Sadducees came to him out of curiosity, but with no intention of believing him, John upbraids them and warns them of the coming judgment. Then he says to all his listeners: “One who is more powerful than I is coming after me: I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and Fire”.
Today this call is addressed to us as well. We hear it especially during the time of Advent when as a community we are called to a ‘change of heart’. The Gospel reading of today challenges each one of us. There are no exceptions. We are probably all aware of areas in our own lives that need to be changed and to be touched by the power of God’s forgiveness. We all need to be recalled into the fidelity of our own baptism; we all need to be challenged again by the Word of the Lord. We don’t have to make a trek into the wilderness to hear the Word of the Lord. We hear it here, in our parish. Hearing and acting upon it is the best preparation for the ‘One’ who is to come.
Advent is a good time for all of us to discover what ‘Fruit’ we are called to bear. A solid assurance of hope is given to us in the Old Testament and fulfilled in Christ. No matter how bleak the prevailing view of our future may seem, we need not despair but have hope.
We will conclude Advent with a young woman overshadowed by the Spirit, destined to give birth to that heir of David whose message, once heard and authentically lived, offers ‘hope and peace’ in this bitter-sweet season of Joy and sadness.
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week:
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following the 2nd Sunday of Advent Year A, we reflect on …
Sun. … Even if the family of Jesse was no longer the flourishing tree it once was, the Messiah could spring forth even from a stump. This has been fulfilled in the incarnation of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Are we fully committed to be part of this new growth of righteousness and love for all that the Messiah brings?
Mon. … This ‘new shoot’ would possess the best qualities of all the members of the family of Jesse. He would fear God; he would be obedient to God like the Patriarchs. He would be just and defend the poor and the oppressed. Are we able to imitate our Lord and Saviour in this ‘Way’?
Tue. … In this text of Isaiah (vs. 2-3), ‘the six spirits’ were one of the main sources for what was to become known in Christian Tradition as the “Seven Gifts if the Holy Spirit”. Early Christians, recognizing that these gifts were prophetic of Jesus and his coming also applied them to all the newly baptized, who became a ‘royal priest hood, a holy nation’ (1 Pt. 2:9). Jesus calls us once again this Advent to this ‘royal priesthood’. Will we answer his call? Wed. … Acceptance of the Christian responsibility of being at the service of others is the first step on the path to truth, charity and justice. The norms of our world teach us to look after only a select few and that is largely only those whom we need to impress or ourselves. Jesus came to change the worldly rules. The key code to the kingdom of heaven is based on our love for our neighbour. Thur. … This Advent, we must allow Jesus to come into our lives so that we may express a condition of ‘total submission’ to God. God seeks to promote our life and well-being but he will only succeed if we freely collaborate with him. Frid. … Nobody is too important or righteous as not to need conversion. John the Baptist called the whole of Israel without exception, to a ‘change of heart’. In the Gospel reading he calls each one of us today to repent and to start living a ‘new life’ before it’s too late. Sat. … John the Baptist invites us to live a new life by ‘bearing fruit’. Advent is a good time for all of us to rediscover what ‘fruit’ we are called to bear. Like the unfruitful fig tree we have been given another chance by the love and grace of God. This may be the ‘last chance we get!
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Heavenly Father, grant us the grace to repent, think again, straighten out our lives and to see how close You are to us this Advent. Help us to discover the fruit we are called to bear. Let us prepare for an Advent celebration of reconciliation with our Lord and Saviour and our Neighbour.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.
Compliments: Bible Discussion Group.
Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale.
“Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.