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Homilies/Reflections

ON THE PERSON OF HOPE. A reflection for the 2nd Sunday of Advent Year A
By Fr. Modestus Mgbaramuko
Mon, 09 Dec 2019

Readings: Is 11:1-11; Rm 15:4-9; Mt 3:1-12

From the days of Moses up to the time of David, it was the ‘land of the promise' that the Jews hoped for and prayed. But after those promises were secured in David, Israel thought that a great 'Saviour' like David would never again be found. In all their hopes and prayers, God’s people wished that their present kings may, at least, resemble King David. But many of the kings did not, and the people paid bitter prices. There came the harrowing regrets of defeats and the bitter tears of repeated deportations. Nation-wide famines were severe as no one could stay long enough to grow the land. When will the hardships end? Or has God finally deserted his people…?

Have you ever wondered why the voice of the prophet, Isaiah, remains so unmistakable, if not indispensable during the Advent? Well, the reason is clear: He was the man who 'saw' God's glory and heard God’s voice amidst Israel in distress (Is 6:3). Isaiah opened the vast possibilities in God's creative word for God’s chosen people, buoying them up to hope for a greater future. We today, re-enact and celebrate that hope and greater future. Listen again to Isaiah: "A shoot will spring from the stump of Jesse, a scion shall thrust from his roots. ...On him, the spirit of the Lord rests..." This hope that things will get better; and that God remembers his people is our point.

The spirit of knowledge was the gift to Moses, but more of it was yet to be seen. The spirit of prudence, strength, and power was the combined blessing so pronounced in David, yet that blessing will flourish to fullness in the times ahead. Wisdom, intelligence, and insight were the blessings of Solomon, but now the people will marvel at their overflow in the 'scion that thrusts from the root of Jesse.' In the messianic vision of Isaiah, even nature itself will be renewed and called back to its initial harmony. Imagine, 'the lion will eat grass like the ox, the wolf will be guest to the Iamb, the land will be filled with God's wisdom as the waters swell the sea...' This was a mental picture of the messianic kingdom which Isaiah foresaw at the advent of the Christ.

The same messianic hope St Paul reiterates. It is worth waiting and working for. Such hope is not simply an attitude. It is a virtue in the life of the Christian. We say “virtue” because it is a stable disposition, able to lend a completely new orientation to the actions and behaviors of the believer in Christ. The person of hope never deals with life as the dog deals with the bone. Called to count more on God, rather than on self, the persons of hope do not only see that today is not good, they also understand that tomorrow will be better. A hopeful person never gives up trying, and short-term results do not deceive him or her. Can we all renew our hopes today?

The context of living hope – the hope that things will get better, projects John the Baptist before us today. As a model of living and active hope, John invites us to make ourselves ready for Christ. The message of John is crystal clear in its stand against the culture of indifference, and its demands for a change of heart. Change in our attitude to God. Change in our manner of dealing with people. Change in our perceptions about wealth, power and prestige. The challenge here is to show regret for mistakes and poor decisions of the past, and to return to the demands of faith in God. To decide and listen more to the call of truth, and to begin it now for the sake of Christ.

 

John demanded this while sincerely reminding the people that they were not doing well; or that they needed reform in their lives. “Then Jerusalem and all Judea, including the entire Jordan district, made their way to John, and as they repented and received baptism, they confessed their sins” (Mt 3:5-6). Thus, the approaching commemoration of Christmas is something to be understood for what it truly is: a time of grace given us by God to make amends.

 

Let us all take this message of hope home. Let us bring this active wait of hope into the context of our human pride, our lack of patience with one another, our denial of responsibility and our betrayal of trust. Let those false claims by which we often see ourselves as saints while putting down others as sinners, now give way for genuine repentance. The reason is that Christ is near.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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