By:  Fr Andrew Ekpenyong

1. Text Message. It was the 2nd Sunday of Advent, on 6th Dec 2020, and of course the Scripture readings were the same as today. Fr Pius started his homily with a bit of leg-pulling on his congregation. He said: “Did you hear that Heaven is done with all the sinfulness in the world and it is time for all the wicked people to be destroyed? But before doing that, Archangel Michael has just sent a special text message to all righteous people. Please pull out your phones now and check the message. What does it say?” People turned on their phones and there was disappointment on every face. One girl quickly texted her Dad: “Daddy please forward yours to me”. And her Dad texted back: “You mean you didn’t get one?” Of course, Fr Pius told them he was kidding and proceeded to share the text-message constantly being sent to every heart: the voice of conscience that calls each of us to do good and avoid evil. Today’s 2nd reading (2 Pt 3:8-14) reinforces that message in view of the 2nd and final coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, we are awaiting “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells”. Yes, we are “eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace.”


2. Repentance. Yes, God on His part is not “delaying” but is patient with us, “not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pt 3:9). And now, Sisters and Brothers, imagine if everyone on this planet repented right now, as God wills. Hamas would release all hostages. The war in Gaza would stop. Israelis and Palestinians will forgive each other. Putin would pull out troops from Ukraine. Babies will no longer be killed in abortion. Domestic violence would end. And the entire human family would be at peace, ready for eternal happiness with our Savior. So, repentance is the key step to personal peace and world peace. Every act of repentance, every act of turning away from evil and doing good, leads to world peace. Sisters and Brothers, thank you for contributing to world peace, every time you heed the voice of a well-formed conscience, every time you embrace the Sacrament of Reconciliation, every time you say, “I’m sorry” and make amends, every time you do and say kind things, every time you come to worship and to receive the grace to live a holy life.

3. John and the People. Today’s 1st reading (Is 40:1-5, 9-11) and the Gospel (Mk 1:1-8) remind us how God promised and used John the Baptist to help people prepare for the 1st coming of the Messiah, through the same things we are engaging in today, namely, repentance and worship. Removing every mountain and hill, filling-in every valley to make a straight highway in the desert (Is 40:3-5), takes a lot of heavy-duty equipment such as caterpillars, cranes, excavators. Those heavy-duty equipment are John’s trademark life of voluntary poverty, in terms of his food, clothing and shelter. Food: locusts and wild honey. Clothing: camel’s hair and leather belt. Shelter: desert or wilderness. (Mk 1:4-5). John was the embodiment of ascetic preparation for the Christian mystery. We will meet him again next Sunday in the Gospel reading. For today, John’s ministry of “proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” was a resounding success: “People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins.” (Mk 1:5). Wow. He was so successful that people began to assume he was the Messiah. So, he had to say: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.” (Mk 1:7). In other words, the Messiah is so great, so holy, so magnificent that John considered himself unworthy to even be a servant of the Messiah. John the Baptist considered himself unworthy to be “a Christian”. This puts John in the company of Moses, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, etc who all felt their unworthiness before God and Christ. They did not lack self-esteem but grounded their self-esteem in humility. Brothers and Sisters, as we patiently await “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells”, let us emulate John the Baptist’s humility by recognizing our unworthiness before Christ, a humility that makes us to repent, to confess our sins, to do penance, amend our lives; a humility that removes the mountains and hills of pride from our lives, a humility that fills the valleys of our heart with compassion for others, thereby contributing to world peace; a humility that makes our lives revelations of God’s glory. Amen.



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