for the second Sunday of Advent
Is 11:1-10 - Rm 15:5-9 - Mt 3:1-12
by Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
Unity and peace through conversion
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the girdle of his waist, and faithfulness the girdle of his loins.
The first reading for this Sunday is taken from the book of the Prophet Isaiah. During the time of Advent, we read the Prophet Isaiah almost every day. So who was Isaiah? Briefly, let us say that he lived in Jerusalem during the eighth century before our era, that is to say around the year 750 before Jesus Christ. According to rabbinic tradition, he was the brother of King Amaziah. In any case, according to the Bible of Maredsous (1990 edition), "he seems to have belonged to a notable family of Judah" (p. XLI). Seized by the Spirit of God, Isaiah raised his voice against all the sins of his time. In light of today's liturgy, we can compare him to John the Baptist, who preached a baptism of repentance to all the People of God (cf. gospel).
So, announcing the coming of the Judge of all men, Isaiah prophesied to his contemporaries about the imminent coming of the Messiah: There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse - Jesse was the father of David (1 Sam 16:1) - a branch shall grow out of his roots. But he wanted to specify what was essential to the mission of the Messiah: The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him... So what was the promised Messiah to do? Nothing other than to pour out the Spirit of the Lord over all the earth, over every man, over every woman, in the measure of each person's conversion to God, his Creator and Master! Thus, everyone will be united and in peace with each other, having realized unity and peace through conversion.
The importance of this passage of Isaiah 11:1-2 was pointed out by Pope John Paul II, who wrote: This text is important for the whole pneumatology of the Old Testament, because it constitutes a kind of bridge between the ancient biblical concept of "spirit," understood primarily as a "charismatic breath of wind," and the "Spirit" as a person and as a gift, a gift for the person. The Messiah of the lineage of David ("from the stump of Jesse") is precisely that person upon whom the Spirit of the Lord "shall rest." (Servant of God John Paul II, Encyclical on the Holy Spirit, 18 May 1986, no. 15)
Who will receive the Spirit of God? Who if not he or she whose spirit is entirely disposed to receive it. For the Spirit of God is the Spirit of Love! And no one can welcome love other than through love! So it is thanks to the conversion of our heart and soul that the Spirit of God, who rests on Christ, will come into us, here below, and for all eternity. Isaiah, speaking of the Spirit, continues with these words: with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the girdle of his waist, and faithfulness the girdle of his loins.
Let us note once again that the fruits of our conversion, which are unity and peace, are described by the Prophet with the following phrases, which we had omitted today because they reiterate in part the subject discussed a week ago: The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling together, etc... (Is 11:6-10) - See my homily for the first Sunday of Advent.
May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
Saint Paul uses tender and convincing words to invite all of us to conversion of the heart! Let us have for each other the same feelings that Jesus has for each one of us! Now, we know all that Jesus Christ has done for us. Saint John has reminded us: "Jesus laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." (1 Jn 3:16) This love for our brother, for our neighbor, must be both spiritual and material: this love must allow us to glorify God "with one voice". But without any doubt, this love must be that of the truth! Let us love our neighbor by telling him the Truth, which is the dead and risen Jesus Christ!
Mt 3:1-3 & 5-6 & 11-12
In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, «Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.» For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." (Is 40:3) Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. «I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.»
Saint Matthew, as is his custom, seeks to show us how the prophecies of the Old Testament find their realization in the New Covenant. Here, he takes up this passage of Isaiah which speaks of John the Baptist: "A voice cries in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." (Is 40:3)
Scientists say that certain deserts are growing daily, such as the Sahara desert or the one in Australia. Are there not other deserts that are growing in our modern societies? Where are the John the Baptists who announce the coming of the Kingdom of God? I do not hear them...
Let us not forget these words of the Lord: "When the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?" (Lk 18:8) Let us ask the Virgin Mary to pray with us and for us!