Sunday, December 4, 2016

Making All Divisions Cease

Reflection on scripture readings for the second Sunday of Advent.

Building on last week’s readings, this week’s first reading alludes to the day when all divisions will cease, all will know God, and it will be glorious.

Isaiah says God will not judge not by appearance, but with justice for the poor and afflicted. It is a hopeful vision. Peace on earth. Good will to all. God will strike the ruthless and wicked.  This reading made me think of Mary’sMagnificat in regard to mercy, the lowly, the hungry, the rich, etc. I think, even in this day and age, how relevant but difficult that vision is to achieve; in a war torn world, in a world of greed, in a world of haves and have nots, in a world where the way for some excludes or judges others.

In the second reading, Paul acknowledges that achieving such a vision is difficult. Being Christ-like isn’t easy, and Paul offers hope and encouragement so that we might persevere. He also gives us a command so that all those things in the first reading can be fulfilled. We must welcome others as Christ welcomed us. Jesus loved the outcasts and people in the margins. We are called to do the same. But it also means we must welcome those and be present to those whose actions cause oppression.  We must use our love, through word and deed, to change hearts.

John the Baptist, in the Gospel, isn’t worthy. He’s humble and knows that Christ can offer something he can’t.  He wasn’t self-righteous like the Pharisees and Sadducees who believe their way is the only way and that their place in life makes them superior to others.  It’s not enough to be a person of status, civil or religious. It’s not enough to say we are Christian or that we go to church, or that others are lesser for not having what we have (including jobs, education, food, money, etc.). We aren’t worthy, just as John wasn’t worthy. We must bear fruit in this world or we will be judged on the last day. We mustn’t be self-righteous. We must act as Christ would act. 

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