2ND SUNDAY OF ADVENT YEAR B – HOMILY
THEME: ADVENT PREPARATIONS!
By: Fr. Benedict Agbo
* Is 40 : 1 – 11, 2 Pet 3 : 8 – 14, Mk 1 : 1 – 8.
The advent is a special season of preparing ourselves spiritually for the coming of the Lord at Christmas. The readings of today summarize the entire scheme of work for advent in 3 major themes; the message of consolation, the message of preparation and the message of anticipation. The clarion call is for us to go to the desert – the place mortification and quiet time, the place of prayer and repentance.
B. MESSAGE OF CONSOLATION
The 1st message of Advent is a message of consolation : ‘Console my people, says your God. Speak to the heart of Jerusalem. Tell my people that their time of slavery is ended and their deliverance /redemption is at hand, that her guilt has been atoned for and from the hand of the Lord she has received double punishment for all her sins’. This message started during the time of Moses, Ex 3 : 7. According to the Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ‘Your God’ reminds us of the covenant term, Jer 31 : 31. ‘Heart of Jerusalem reveals the new people of God that would emerge from the ashes of the old. ‘Double punishment’ is the hyperbole used to impress on the people that the chastisement of the exile was really over. And so, ‘Like a Shepherd he feeds his flock and gathers the lambs in his arms… leading them home’. What a promise! Our failure to study our consolation theology has kept our flock scattered and vulnerable today.
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C. MESSAGE OF PREPARATION
Jesus our redeemer cannot come if we don’t prepare the way for him. We must do this in three ways ;
(i) Filling all valleys – working on our spiritual weaknesses ; laziness in prayer, laziness in Bible study, etc.
(ii) Levelling the mountains and cliffs – working on our pride and vain ambitions, selfishness, lustful tendencies, drunkenness, etc.
(iii) Straightening the highway of the Lord – making our life more righteous and avoiding idolatry and hypocrisy.
The baptism of repentance is presented as our 1st option calling us to take our own sacramental baptism more seriously (whether infant or adult) and not make it dysfunctional by our attitude to it. The baptism of the Holy Ghost is presented as the 2nd option. It is not a different sacrament but just a way of activating what was done before. We must take seriously our sacraments of confirmation, our revivals, retreats, life in the Spirit seminars, crusades, Pentecost Vigils, etc.
We are invited to the desert in today’s gospel where we meet personalities like John the Baptist – a man of God who made straight the way for the Lord by his austere life, fierce preaching and his dying for the sake of the truth. John was no city dweller. He avoided the flashy cars, the comfort glassy houses and the soft and effeminate luxuries which kill the soul. As marketers of Christ’s gospel today, we should also imitate the man who led the advance team for Christ through desert life, desert food and desert garment. Many a man comes today with a message which he himself denies but in the case of John, the man was the message and the message was the man and because of that, the people listened. John asked for nothing for himself but everything for the Christ whom he proclaimed.
Today, the message of deliverance has shifted from ‘revival’ to ‘removal’ (‘mkpocha na nzacha’ – where the man of God promises to do everything for us by himself). Our interest in ‘Dibia pastors’ (so called ‘men of God’ who minister exactly like the African ‘dibias’) has grown, thanks to Pentecostalism with its emphasis on private ministries. The consequence is that we hardly prepare the way for the Lord yet we want the Lord to come by fire by force.
* Story of a man who continued to search for his missing key in the Church while he knew that he left it at home. Reason : Because it is brighter there.
D. MESSAGE OF ANTICIPATION
We are waiting for what he promised us – ‘the new heavens and new earth’ – where righteousness and peace will be enthroned, 2 Pet 3 : 8 – 14. Pope John Paul II calls it ‘the new civilization of love’. Friends, this is realizable on earth if we can all double our efforts in preparing the way for Christ in our various parishes. Christians all over the world can work the magic.
‘And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it’, Is 40 : 5. Oh my God! I believe in this message and I can do anything to make its fulfilment come fast! Let us enthrone the spirit of sonship enabling us to call God ‘Abba Father’, because as as long as we are still under age and enslaved to the elemental principles of this world, we remain under obstruction, Gal 4 : 3.
Let us go to the desert and deal with our evil family foundations, Ezek 18 : 14. Our best preparation for Christ is through repentance for righteousness, Prov 14 : 34. The easiest aids to the desert life of prayer are ;
(i) Simplicity through fasting and abstinence, (ii) Silence through withdrawal from noise and listening to the Word of God and (iii) Solitude through withdrawal from sin and spiritual distractions.
Our 2 major seasons of grace (Christmas and Easter) are periods of special outpouring of the Holy Spirit. They require preparation. Happy Sunday dear friends!
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