Second Sunday of Advent
04 Dec 2019
First Reading: Isaiah 11:1-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 122:1-9
Second Reading: Romans 15:4-9
Gospel: Matthew 3:1-12
Worth the Wait!
We live in a very fast-moving world. Our computers boot up in seconds. High-speed Internet allows us to have all kinds of information at our fingertips. News around the world is broadcast instantly. We rush to get to work and rush to get home. We have no time to waste, for time is money. Thus, waiting at a traffic light, in a bank, or at a popular restaurant can seem to last forever. Waiting has become almost uncivilized in this era of hyper-speed and is not something most of us relish. However, waiting is a necessary aspect of life that we cannot often avoid or escape. There is a familiar quote saying, “The best things in life are worth waiting for.” For believers, Advent is a special time of waiting in great anticipation for the God who comes.
In the first reading from Isaiah, the prophet talks about the coming of a future king who will bring two great gifts that the world desperately needs, namely, justice and peace. What seemed to have been a hopeless situation alluded by the tree that has been cut down to its base is deceiving for out of this stump would sprout a shoot. This ruler who comes from the house of Jesse is endowed with wisdom and understanding, counsel and strength, knowledge and fear of the Lord. He is the champion of the poor and the meek. He acts with righteousness and faithfulness. He is clearly God’s anointed one who will issue in a peaceful realm where the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid. Isaiah’s vision of a new world order and creation is truly remarkable. It is one that all believers long for in eager anticipation.
When John the Baptist appeared in the desert of Judean, people were hoping that he might be the long awaited Messiah spoken by the prophets. In the Gospel passage today, John clearly said that he is not the expected one. As herald of the reign of God, John the Baptizer demonstrated by word and deed precisely how to prepare a welcome for the Messiah. Those who came to hear him in the Judean desert were simply told to repent. In Greek, the term “repent” is metanoia, which means a total change of one’s mental attitude, one that requires a thorough conversion of mind and will in order to return and encounter God. Today and throughout the Advent season, we are invited to hear and respond anew to John’s prophetic cry, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
The readings of this second Sunday of Advent glitter with bright promises of wonderful things that would accompany the coming of the Messiah. Mountains would be leveled out, valleys filled in, winding roads made straight, the desert would bloom, the poor would see justice render, the weak would no longer be exploited, war would be banished from the face of the earth, harmony with those estranged, hospitality to strangers and immigrants…and so on and so forth. While little seems to have changed since last Christmas, the reign of God is nevertheless worth waiting and fighting for.
Rev. Fr. vănThanh Nguyễn, SVD
Professor of New Testament Studies