Why, and for What Reason is Jesus Christ Coming?
Readings: (1st: Ish 40, 1-5.9-11: Ps 84, 9-14; 2nd: 2 Pt 3, 8-14; Gos: Mk 1, 1-8)
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working at the Sanctuario del Espiritu Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
“A voice cries in the wilderness; prepare a way for the Lord. Make a straight way for our God across the desert. Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low…”(Ish 40, 3; Mk 1, 3; Jh 1, 23). On this second week of Advent year B, we continue our waiting and preparation for the Lord’s coming. Today in a special way the church calls us to reflect on the good news that this season brings – that Christ is coming. In light of this, we are also to reflect on the reason for his coming, and most importantly on what we ought to be doing while we wait for him.
Today all our readings focus on the following themes, the imminence of the Lord’s coming and arrival, the need for repentance for the forgiveness of our sins, and of course the need to live saintly, holy and spotless lives. All of these are geared towards making sure that we are fully prepared for the glorious encounter with our Lord and King, Jesus Christ. One important question that we must ask ourselves today is: Why is Christ coming, what are all these talks about his coming for? The answer is simple: He is coming because he loves us, he is coming in order to forgive, console, and to save us, and he is coming to make all things (including us) new. He is not just a busy body who has nothing to do at home and goes about gossiping or mending in other people’s affairs. No, he has a mission and that mission is all about us and our world as the prophet Isaiah gladly informs us today.
In our first reading today, there is a paradigm shift in the prophetic, and prayer pattern of Isaiah from lamentation and wish, to optimism. He has moved, from, “how I wish that you tear heaven…” to “prepare a way for the Lord… Here is the Lord coming with power…” His prayer of hope last week (1st Sunday of Advent) seems to be materializing and bearing fruits soon. So, he confidently says this week, “console my people, console them…” Last week he lamented and wished that the Lord tears down heaven and come down, but today his tone has changed. He sounds more optimistic and certain like someone who is beginning to see the result of or a response to his previous plea. This is a sign that we are going to make it. Like Isaiah, we too must progress in our journey this Advent. Isaiah’s prophecy today is for all of us a great hope raiser that our salvation is close at hand as we continue to wait and prepare for the Lord’s coming. However, it is not yet over as the fulfillment of this hope still lies in the future, though not too far away from us. So, rather than relaxing, we must heed his call, “prepare in the wilderness a way for the Lord…”
In the second reading, Peter assures us that Christ will certainly come. Once again, like the Prophet Isaiah, he gives a boost to our hope. He encourages us not to lose hope in the prophetic promises about the coming of Christ irrespective of our human reckoning of time which is quite different from God’s. Peter wrote at a time when some people were at the verge of losing their hope in the promise of Christ’s second coming due to the teachings of some false prophets and mockers. Today, Peter makes the following very important points. First, that what we conceive as a long period of time is nothing in God’s time, as there is a difference between God’s time and ours. This is the reason for the popular saying: “God’s time is the best time!” Our human reckoning of time is “Chronos”, which refers to our human sequential time, in which second follows second, minute follows minute, hour follows hour, day follows day, etcetera. This is the type of time is where we live a great deal of our lives, as the clock urges us on to the next scheduled appointment or event. On the other hand, God’s reckoning of time is “Kairos” which signifies a time in between, a moment of undetermined period of time in which something special happens. In other words, kairos points toward a moment when we cease to be conscious of chronos, of the ticking of our man-made clocks, because we are taken up in a special moment that seems almost timeless. While chronos is quantitative, kairos is qualitative. The second, and most important message of Peter to us this Advent revolves round the “The Day of the Lord,” which he warns us comes like a thief. Therefore he reminds us of what we ought to be doing this time around: “You should be living holy and saintly lives while you wait and long for the Day…do your best to live lives without spot or stain so that he will find you at peace.” The need to better our lives is the core of Peter’s message to us today. This is the season when we must make every effort to live holy lives, a season we must ask for pardon from God for those times we have not got things right, and a season we must make every effort to reconcile ourselves with God and our neighbour. Living a holy and saintly life means being actively involved in God’s work and with others around us. It is not only a measure of our personal spirituality, but also, a measure of how effective our ministry of prayer, charity, and evangelization, has been.
In the Gospel of this Sunday, John the Baptist like Isaiah brings us the good news about the Lord’s imminent coming. He makes an explicit call to us to repent for the forgiveness of our sins. What is there to repent from? They include, those moments we have denied God through our words and actions, those moments we have failed ourselves and our neighbours, those times we have neglected the good we ought to do, those times we have gossiped and castigated others, those times we have not been true to our selves, God, our neighbours and our country, and those times we have failed to live saintly and holy lives. This Advent is the time to say, God we are sorry, forgive us for we have sinned! This is a very important condition for us to welcome Christ worthily, and this is what the prophets Isaiah, John the Baptist, and the Prince of the Apostles Peter mean respectively by, “preparing a way for the Lord” and “living holy and saintly lives.” If we sincerely repent this season, then the salvation that Jesus brings will be ours, and we will be part of the new generation that he comes to transform and redeem by his love. If we clean up ourselves properly, we need not be afraid of the Day of the Lord, but simply look forward to it with joyful anticipation. Anticipation of the coming of the Lord should not merely inform our manner of life. Rather, it should motivate us to respond with repentance, holy and saintly living, godliness, and of course, joyful expectation of our salvation. Humbly therefore, let us pray with the psalmist today: “Let us see, O Lord your mercy, and give us your saving help”.
Peace be with You!