Second Sunday of Advent
Lectionary: 4 (NAB Translation)
This week’s first reading from the book of Isaiah is a prophecy of the Messiah as the One who will descend as a branch from the root of Jesse in the lineage of King David. The Christ (Messiah) will have all the attributes of one filled with the Holy Spirit: “wisdom and insight”, “counsel and power”, a “spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.” As supreme ruler, He will govern with justice and eventually He will usher in a period of such incredible peace that even the lion will “lie down with a lamb.” Ultimately the Messiah will make right all the evil that has resulted from original sin. All the nations, not just Israel, will look to Him for salvation.
The response for this week’s Psalm echoes the thoughts of the first reading: “Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace forever.”
In this week’s second reading from Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans, we are reminded that Sacred Scripture has been given to us by God to teach us hope and to show us the example of how faithful servants of the Lord received His help as result of their perseverance and fortitude. Paul then calls all believers to unity, admonishing them (and us) to treat each other as Christ has treated us — with kindness and friendliness. Finally, St. Paul reminds us that God’s mercy extends beyond the Jews, and is indeed truly universal. The pagans will now learn of the true God, they too will give Him glory.
This week’s gospel from St. Matthew introduces us to the person and preaching of St. John the Baptist. John was a fiery character in the tradition of the Old Testament prophets. John the Baptist attracted many people with spiritual needs who would come to him to be baptized, confessing and repenting their sins. Much like Jesus, John the Baptist confronted the Jewish leaders of both leading factions (Sadducees and Pharisees) making it clear that repentance was the key to salvation. Any privilege they thought they could claim by merely being a descendant of Abraham meant nothing. John even went so far as to insult them by calling them a “brood of vipers,” making it clear that they would be judged according to the fruit they produced. This warning should be a solemn warning to us also so that our faith is proven by the fruit we bear.
Reflection question from Bishop Vásquez
Today we hear that is it not enough to simply know Christ. Our lives are to bear good fruit. Discipleship requires ongoing conversion and formation through an intimate relationship with Christ. Do we bear good fruit? Where do we need to repent, and to turn away from sin and toward Christ as we prepare for His coming??