Readings: Isaiah 2:1-5; Romans 13:11-14; Mt. 24:37-44
God’s Vision for Humanity
In a world enveloped in darkness and dominated by fear, sorrow, sickness, poverty, cynicism, apathy, wars and rumors of war, Christians are called to be unapologetic optimists. They are to shine the light of joy, happiness and hope, and restore peace to the world. This is what Advent is all about. This period of waiting for the Messiah demonstrates that God is much greater than our collective feeling of sadness and despair. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (Jn. 3:16). As the Jews waited in hope for the Messiah, so we wait! Advent assures us that the birth of Christ will restore joy, peace and love to our broken world.
This was Isaiah’s vision in the first reading. “In days to come, the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. All nations shall stream toward it.…He shall judge between the nations and impose terms on many people. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” (Is. 2:1-5). Isaiah predicts that a day shall come when mankind shall live together and walk together in faith and righteousness and brotherhood. We pray for the realization of this vision with faith and optimism! Without our collective desire for peace, we are condemned to the dreadful prospect of wars succeeding wars until the human race destroys itself. The words of John F. Kennedy ring true here, “Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.” We note with sadness that in our world today, the instrument of war has far out spaced the instrument of peace, and so if mankind doesn’t pursue peace and peaceful cohabitation with her neighbors, the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science, can engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction. Therefore, Isaiah’s vision is urgent and urged us to create a world of peace and hope both for ourselves and humanity
Advent calls us to look at God’s vision for humanity, to consider, to accept and obey Him, or perish miserably. For in order to experience peace we must acknowledge the supremacy of faith in God. “It is because the sovereignty of God is acknowledged, and men no longer pay lip service to it, but are prepared to organize life in keeping with it, that the whole face of the world is changed.” Secondly, mankind must be willing to learn the way of life without violence and outwardly pursue peace. And finally, Isaiah notes that the distrust that man has in negotiating for peace can only be overcome by trust in God. We say Amen to that!
St Paul, in the second reading, cautions against waiting till it is too late to live a life of grace. He said, “You know the time; it is the hour now for you to wake from sleep.” When we sleep, we forget that we have work to do and places to go. And when we let our guards down we can easily be surprised by events or calamities. Paul exhorts us to “Conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and lust, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.” The flesh, according to Paul, is our unredeemed self that is always at war with our spiritual self. Msgr. Charles Pope, in his blog.adw.org, stated that the flesh “Refers to the part of us that is alienated from God. It is the rebellious, unruly, obstinate part of our inner self that is always operative. It is the part of us that doesn’t want to be told what to do. It is stubborn, refuses correction, and doesn’t want to have a thing to do with God. It recoils at anything that might cause us to be diminished or to be something less than the center of the universe. The flesh hates to be under authority or to have to yield to anything other than its own desires. The flesh often desires something simply because it is forbidden.” If Advent must be meaningful and anticipate the birth of Christ, the flesh must be redeemed and submit to the will of God.
The Gospel exhorts us to stay awake for we do not know when the Son of Man will come. The vision of Isaiah and the exhortation to be alert will make the preparation for the birth of Christ fruitful. For during Advent, we do not only wait for the coming of Christ at his birth, but also for his second coming at the end of time. While we wait, what sought of people ought we to be? We must be engaged in acts of penitence which Advent calls for. We must purge ourselves of sins and keep our hearts clean by making use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Christ must be welcomed into a clean house. Our heart is the temple of the Holy Spirit, it is there that God dwells. We must get rid of malice and malicious thoughts and deeds. Grudges, anger, resentment and revenge must have no room in our hearts. We must be engaged in sporadic acts of kindness and compassion; and be committed to a healthy prayer life and be available to assist others in their needs. May God give us his grace. Amen!
Action exercise. Advent is a period of 24 days from December 01 to December 24. There are 24 chapters in Luke’s Gospel. If we read a chapter of this Gospel a day, we would read the 24 chapters of Luke’s Gospel by December 24. We will be enlightened about Christ’s life and the reason for celebrating his birth, then Isaiah’s vision will be ours too, and we will come to understand God’s vision for humanity.
“Don’t forget to pray today because God didn’t forget to wake you up this morning”