“IN HIS DAYS JUSTICE SHALL FLOURISH AND GREAT PEACE FOREVER” (Ps 72:7)
????Isa 11:1-10; Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17; Rom 15:4-9; Matt 3:1-12
????”IN HIS DAYS JUSTICE SHALL FLOURISH AND GREAT PEACE FOREVER” (Ps 72:7)
The wonderful season of Advent comes with a lot of promises, central of which is the exposition of God’s faithfulness on his people. The Book of Genesis tells us that when God had finished his work of creation, “He saw all he had made, and indeed it was very good” (Gen 1:31). Things remained in that good state until man sinned and lost the original grace in which God created him (cf. Rom 3:23). But God did not abandon man to perish and he in fact does not enjoy the death of those who have gone astray, he rather wills that they may repent and live (cf. Ezk 33:11). That is why he sent his only Son to die for us even while we were still sinners (see Rom 5:8).
The three readings and the responsorial psalm that we have in this Second Sunday of Advent expose the above statements in greater details. The First Reading talks about a state in which all of creation would enjoy absolute peace since none would be thinking of harming the other. We must recall that things were in that order until man sinned and contaminated the earth, hence the curse from God, “Because you done this, accursed be you…” (Gen 3:14-19).
So the Prophet Isaiah says that this former order would be restored when the shoot from the stump of Jesse springs up (Isa 11:1). Noticeable in that prophetic promise is the fact of a branch growing from the roots of that shoot.
Ordinarily, a branch grows out of a stem. In this case, it would be difficult for the shoot to grow any since it springs up from a stump. So there is a difficulty in view but this shoot is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Rev 5:5) who surmounts all difficulties.
Secondly and most significantly to our theme, the branch that is produced by this shoot would be able to accommodate all categories of living things because it is coming from the ground. So, even the not-so-tall can benefit by feeding from it and taking shelter under it. But what of the very tall ones?
The Pharisees and the Sadducees could be considered as the tall ones in the society of Jesus time. They pride themselves as models in the society and look down on those who are not of their kind. We can then imagine why John the Baptist referred to them as “brood of vipers” (Matt 3:7).
Vipers belong to a family of venomous snakes, and that reminds us of the snake that deceived man into committing sin (cf. Gen 3) and so was cursed. John the Baptist knew that they were living in self-deceit and false ego, which makes justice and peace impossible in the society. The advice that he gave them thereafter tells us of what is required from the very tall ones to benefit from that branch – humility and repentance. A bag of sack that is full cannot bend but an empty one easily bends. For anyone to take shadow under that branch, such a person must empty himself and bend low to be one with others.
Fellow pilgrims, this promised shoot that we are told of today is the messiah whose birth we await at Christmas. This period of Advent offers us the opportunity to level all mountains of injustice, pride and oppression in our lives. It is a period to make our paths straight so that God may come to live in us. When he does, we shall reign in justice and peace. If only we can love others as God loves us, this would be a possibility. There is a place for all of us since the promised branch is going to grow from the root; the root of a stump would definitely be many.
With the help of God, we shall live to be part of that kingdom where this shoot from the stump of Jesse shall reign. Amen.
I wish you a grace filled Sunday. It is well with you.