Advent is for healing

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul

Second Sunday of Advent-A, 08 December 2019

Isaiah 11:1-10 ><}}}*> Romans 15:4-9 ><}}}*> Matthew 3:1-12

Cathedral Basilica Minore of the Immaculate Conception, Malolos City, Advent 2019.

Advent is a season we are invited to look forward, to dream of the ideal, of the best things we wish we all have in this destructive world we live in.

It is the time for healing our wounds and brokenness as we look forward to the fulfillment of God’s promise of lasting peace brought by Jesus Christ’s coming more than 2000 years ago.

On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him… Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, but he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted… Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips. Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; the calf and young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them. The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like ox. The baby shall play by the cobra’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair. There shall be no harm or ruin on my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord, as water covers the sea.

Isaiah 11:1-2, 3, 4, 5-9
“Peaceable Kingdom”, a painting based on Is.11:1-10 by American Edward Hicks, a Quaker pastor (1780-1849).

Jesus is coming again to heal our destructive world

Last November 28 we celebrated Red Wednesday to remember the more than 300 million Christians worldwide persecuted in various forms because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Many of them were tortured and/or murdered while others were denied of work, housing and liberty for carrying the cross and confessing their faith and love for Jesus Christ.

According to some reports, about 80% of wars and conflicts in the world today are due to religion. How tragic – and scandalous – that religion is tearing us apart than bringing us together as peoples believing in a God who is loving and merciful!

But despite all these destructions going on, Isaiah’s prophecy challenges us to keep our hopes alive for a better future, to look forward for the coming again of Jesus Christ, “the shoot that shall sprout from the stump of Jesse” to heal our destructive world.

Advent assures us that it is never too late for the Lord to make peace and justice spring forth in our dying world like a stump of tree.

Isaiah’s vision is an imagery of God’s test of faith to us all to make it Jesus Christ’s peace a reality in this fragmented world, calling us into conversion so that we shall be “filled with knowledge of the Lord, as water covers the sea.”

It is a call made louder and clearer by St. John the Baptist at the wilderness that still echoes to our own time today.

Healing our destructive world starts within me

Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, September 2019.

When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance… Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

Matthew 3:7-8,10

The season of Advent is not only inviting us to look forward for a new world order where there would be lasting peace and justice, when all our tears would be wiped out, with perfect joy replacing our pains and sufferings. Advent is calling on us to look forward in renewing our relationships with God and with one another by beginning within our own hearts.

And make no mistake that St. John’s preaching and call were not only meant for the Pharisees and Sadducees of his time but also to us all Christians of today to “produce good fruit of our repentance” because being sorry for our sins is just the first step to conversion.

Whenever there is true repentance in our hearts, there must also be a change in our very selves, in our living. And only then can we expect of a better and more beautiful world coming like Isaiah’s vision because from true repentance comes justice and mercy.

St. John was very clear: it is Jesus Christ who is coming whom we shall await and prepare to meet right in our hearts. He is coming not to destroy the world – and us – but to restore everything into life anew.

Skies over the desert of Sinai in Egypt, May 2019.

Meeting Christ in the desert

Sometimes we get discouraged by some people and many situations that throw us off-balanced, tempting us to abandon all our efforts to be healed of our wounds and brokenness, in striving to become better persons.

Like St. John the Baptist, we have our own desert of desolation and bareness that purifies us further in preparing the way of the Lord, in meeting the Lord to be healed.

It is in our own desert of desolation and bareness where we are healed as we learn to be empty of ourselves like St. John in order to conquer first our selfish desires with silence and prayer, not with activities as we are all bent in doing these days.

In our world saturated in media with cacophony of voices telling us to do everything to be rich and popular and famous, the more we become empty and lost, broken and wounded.

“St. John the Baptist Preaching in the Wilderness” by German painter Anton Raphael Mengs (1728-1779). From Google.

Like St. John the Baptist, we have to break free from the trappings of the world by retreating into our own desert right inside our hearts in order to listen more to the voice of the coming Christ we must proclaim fearlessly in words and in deeds.

St. Paul assures us that all that scripture foretold in the past has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ who is coming again at the end of time. Despite the many destructions in this world, despite the many setbacks we have in life, may we imitate St. John the Baptist in awaiting Christ in our own desert for he is most faithful in his promise and presence. Amen.

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