2nd Sunday of Advent- Year B ~ December 10, 2023
PEACE PREPARES THE WAY
We continue our Advent journey as we prepare to celebrate the Nativity of our Lord. We light the second candle which symbolizes the desire and gift of Peace. We struggle everyday for peace but especially when we hear about war, violence, marginalization, and suffering, however in this deadly war between four countries, the desire for the peace has grown so high. The second candle during Advent keep reminding us that Jesus is the only one who could illuminate our hearts, minds, and souls to experience peace which is the way to eternal life. This week we are given St. John the Baptist to walk with and examine our emptiness in our lives. He is crying and pleading for people to mend their ways and get ready to welcome the one who was, who is and who will be forever. Let me share a following story with you before I meditate on the Word of God today.
Once A daughter was telling her mother how everything was going wrong. She was failing algebra, her boyfriend broke up with her, and her best friend was moving away. Meanwhile, her mother is baking a cake and asks her daughter if she would like a snack. The daughter says, “Absolutely Mom, I love your cake.” “Here, have some cooking oil,” her mother offers. “Yuck” says her daughter. “How about a couple of raw eggs?” “Gross, Mom!” “Would you like some flour then? Or maybe baking soda?” “Mom, those are all yucky!” To which the mother replies, “Yes, all those things seem bad all by themselves, but when they are put together in the right way, they make a wonderfully delicious cake!
God works the same way. Many times, we wonder why He would let us go through such bad and difficult times as we are experiencing right now, but God knows that when He puts these things all in His order, they always work for good! Does God not pay attention to our present situation, one may raise this question? However, Prophet Isaiah gives the answer in this way; “Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God…”
Today’s Word of God has some very interesting elements to reflect upon as we walk with Prophet Isaiah and St. John the Baptist. First God comforts everyone. Prophet Isaiah is giving this message to the Israelites who are in Babylonian exile and are completely devastated with things happened with them and the city of Jerusalem. In the Book of Exodus, we read “God said to Moses, I have heard the cry of my people and have come to save them”. God does not leave anyone in pain or suffering but wipes the tears from every eye as St. John writes in the Book of Revelation “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” God’s only Begotten Son took human flesh to comfort everyone and even he cried and had compassion for people because they were like sheep without shepherd.
Secondly a voice is crying. Why is this voice crying? Why is only a voice is coming is mentioned? In the First Reading and the Gospel we have the same passage which explore the love and compassion of God who wants people to come back to him as Prophet Ezekiel says “ Now you, mortal, say to the house of Israel, Thus you have said: “Our transgressions and our sins weigh upon us, and we waste away because of them; how then can we live?” Say to them, As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel? (33:10-11). In our day-to-day life whenever we see someone crying, we experience the sadness, brokenness, pain of rejection, and suffering. This crying makes people come up to console or strengthen someone either by simple hugs or words. However, in the Readings today God’s sadness is immense because people have become unfaithful to him and have started following other gods and ways which are contrary to his commandments, but he wants them back because he does not want anyone to die in their sins as Psalmist says “harden not your hearts today”. St. Paul explains the compassion and love of God even if we deny him “The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:11-13). One may ask the question why is there crying in the wilderness when the people were living in the cities? It is a valid question however we must understand the content and meaning of “wilderness” in the Bible. The Wilderness in the Bible is considered “a place of loneliness and emptiness” and “a state of quietness” which means one must be alone and quiet to “listen to his voice”.
Eusebius of Caesarea once wrote “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight the paths of our God. The prophecy makes clear that it is to be fulfilled, not in Jerusalem but in the wilderness: it is there that the glory of the Lord is to appear, and God’s salvation is to be made known to all mankind. It was in the wilderness that God’s saving presence was proclaimed by John the Baptist, and there that God’s salvation was seen. The words of this prophecy were fulfilled when Christ and his glory were made manifest to all: after his baptism the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove rested on him, and the Father’s voice was heard, bearing witness to the Son: This is my beloved Son, listen to him. The prophecy meant that God was to come to a deserted place, inaccessible from the beginning. None of the pagans had any knowledge of God since his holy servants and prophets were kept from approaching them. The voice commands that a way be prepared for the Word of God: the rough and trackless ground is to be made level, so that our God may find a highway when he comes. Prepare the way of the Lord: the way is the preaching of the Gospel, the new message of consolation, ready to bring to all mankind the knowledge of God’s saving power”.
Thirdly invitation to repent: This is so very important to understand that we want to have peace not only within ourselves but with God as well, then we must repent our short comings, sins, and failures. By confessing them we become humble, and humility plays a vital role in achieving peace. Prophet Isaiah says “Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low’ the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken”. In our Christian faith we have the Sacrament of Confession/Reconciliation which helps us to experience peace and healing in the Lord. St. John Baptist while inviting people to confess their sins, is also reminding them to prepare themselves to welcome the one who is more powerful than him. St. Peter in the Second Reading is encouraging people “do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but all to come to repentance”. The season of Advent is a season of seeking God’s peace, love, and presence; “Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace”.
Lastly acknowledging the Saviour: St. John the Baptist acknowledges the Saviour that he is more powerful than him “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals, I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit”. He was the first one who even before his birth leaped for joy in his mother’s womb. Jesus is prince of peace who is seated on the eternal throne of King David. Prophet Isaiah says “See, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will feed his flock like a shepherd…”
Let me end my reflection with this story which will help us to understand that the shadow of fear will destroy our lives, but the light of faith will show us the peace. In the center of the most beautiful garden in the world stood the Tree of Wisdom. From this great tree there grew many branches and leaves. It spread its roots throughout the land. The tree was a place of comfort. Creatures would often come to it and sit in its shade and feel its great truths.
For many years there was harmony. Then one day a shade from one long branch decided that it was not happy. The shade did not wish to give comfort or shelter. “Fools,” cried the shade as it spread beneath the tree. “I know more than any of them. I am not made to serve. I should rule over everything.”
And so, it was that in pride and hatred the shade tugged and pulled and stretched itself until at last it was able to break its attachment to the great tree. It became the first shadow. Instead of using its power to give shade, it created a cold darkness that blinded all those it touched to the truth. Instead of using its voice to impart great truths to those around it, The Shadow whispered only lies.
The Shadow crept away from the Tree of Wisdom and drifted far into a barren place where it crawled into a hole in the sand. It sank deep into the earth. The Shadow grew and plotted. It would wait beneath the surface until a sad or doubting creature came near. Then The Shadow would rise and overtake the unsuspecting creature and blind it to truth and bend it to its will. Over many years and many miles, the shadow created an underground army. Then the army of The Shadow began to strike without warning bringing fear, sadness and hate to innocent creatures. “You cannot fight. I will win,” it lied.
Some began to hide and fear the very light of day, for they thought that it was the cause of The Shadow. Others began to hate and fear all the shade of the world, not being able to tell the difference between shade and shadow. It came to pass that creatures began to feel anger toward all things different from themselves. They even became afraid of their own shadows. They stayed in their homes. When they went out, they didn’t go far.
One day a field mouse went to the Tree of Wisdom, shook its small fist, and shouted, “How could you create such a terror upon us? Why is this allowed to continue?” The great tree bowed its huge trunk. It shook and leaves fell like tears. But it did not answer. Then a voice spoke from all around, “I created light and darkness. I made creatures great and small. To one and all I gave the power to build or destroy, bring joy or pain. One among you has chosen darkness and pain. This is not my wish.”
Though dazzled by being in the presence of this great power the Mouse was still angry. “Why do you not stop The Shadow?” cried the Mouse. “Because I have given that power to those The Shadow harms. The Shadow has grown through the lack of caring in creatures. Now it is your job to stop it,” the great voice answered.
The Voice told the mouse how to win. “You cannot live in fear. Fear only makes The Shadow grow. To be rid of darkness – shine a powerful light of truth. To be rid of cold – bring only warmth wherever you go.” The Mouse answered, “I will go out and tell the others what you taught me. I will remember not to hate, because hate makes The Shadow stronger.” But Mouse worried, “I am only one small being and the shadows are now many. How can I ever hope to succeed?” Suddenly Mouse was surrounded in a beautiful golden light and warmth, “You will know that as The Shadow began with one small dark being now the light will grow with you, my small messenger.”
So it was that one tiny creature set out into the world. With every kind word and every truth, it spoke, the world around it healed. Others joined the mouse and soon the light grew, and the shadows faded. One by one, The Shadow’s followers fell before the mouse and the light. The Shadow sank back into its hole in the earth, vanishing like drops of water in the burning sands of time.
So today as we enter into the second week of Advent to follow the light and journey with Prophet Isaiah and St. John the Baptist, to experience God’s love and peace during these horrific wars so that our souls are not dragged by the evils of doubt rising from these situations. Let’s repent from our sins, shortcomings and failures and prepare the way to welcome Jesus Christ so that he may become the true reason of the season and peace may prevail in our homes, families, communities and in the World. Come Lord Jesus Prince of Peace and fill our hearts with your love and peace. Maranatha… Come Lord Jesus. Amen
Do we believe that peace can prepare the way to welcome Jesus?
Other Sermons In This Series
October 27, 2023
November 25, 2022
December 10, 2021