Sermons

Summary: The route home is spiritualized to refer to as "the way of the Lord" and attention must be given to preparing for the coming of the Messiah.

Modern GPS devices usually have a pleasant voice that tells you when you missed a turn and how to get back on the right road. On this Second Sunday of Advent, we hear the pleasant voice of this Good News:

1.Such as the opening words of our Gospel today: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.” (Mark 1.1).

Gospel means “good news,” and the news is that Jesus is new life because he alone dealt with the burden of our sin and estrangement from God by his saving death on the Cross and Resurrection so that for the faithful departed, life is not ended but changed (Catechism 1012) into a happy destiny in eternity though the immortality of the conscious personality (subjective awareness) and the resurrection of our body on the last day.

In this life, the Good News is that not only does Jesus show us the moral way that leads us to salvation--as our Second Reading says, “conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion” (2 Peter 3:11) -- but through grace we receive divine assistance to do it.

e.g. We hear that John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist and he fed on locusts and wild honey. (Mark 1:6).

On a historical level, desert peoples then and now do eat grasshoppers as protein and raw honey is rich in nutrients and Vitamin C. Comfort food in wild honey and locust?

The early Christian authors made theological reflections on John the Baptist’s clothing and food, seeing an example of a change in lifestyle and behavior that do not follow the status quo, and that sanctification comes to realization in our moral life.

E.g. Clement of Alexandria offers the Baptist's diet as example to avoid overeating and gluttony, saying, “I for one would not hesitate to call that devil, the devil of the belly, the most wicked and deadly of them all. John the Baptist maintained extreme self-restraint.

[source: Paed. 2.1 (2.15.4-2.16.1); Simon P. Wood, [Clement,] Christ the Educator (FC 23; New York: Fathers of the Church, 1954).

And St. Jerome says that John the Baptist’s somber dress scandalizes an immodest world, and yet, among those that are born of women, there has not been [one] greater than he. He was called an angel, and he baptized the Lord Himself, and yet he was clothed in camel's hair, girded with a leather belt.

[source: Jerome, Ep. 38.3 (To Marcella). St. Jerome was telling Marcella that as a widow, she is "freed from the marital bond," and now has, for her one duty, to continue as a widow; in modest dress and to persevere since Marcella only had simple food to eat.]

2. A second example of Good News in our Readings today is the comfort that comes through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

It’s been said that the task of a prophet is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

In Our First Reading, the Babylonian army invaded the land. Many of the leading citizens have been taken away in exile in Babylon. The temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed and the city lay in ruins. The people were in shock. These were real life historical events that the Prophet Isaiah described from a faith perspective as coming from God as a “divine chastisement” for the people’s apostasy, heresy, idolatry, and other religious and social transgressions.

But now, the divine anger has subsided and God is trying to draw Israel into returning to their relationship with him. Historically, the Persians had conquered the Babylonians and have now given Israel permission to go home.

The route home is spiritualized to refer to as "the way of the Lord" and attention must be given to preparing for the coming of the Messiah.

The result of preparation is peace; a self that is utterly at rest with God with a good conscience.

Listen the words our First Reading, “Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated; indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD double for all her sins.” (Isaiah 40: 1-2).

The word “comfort” is repeated to carry the emotional weight to reassure us that our guilt is expiated through Christ, the Messiah; it’s the end of our indentured service, the liquidation of our debts incurred; the bestowing of benefits is given that will outweigh the punishment inflicted.

The word “comfort” includes the word “fort” which means strong; to give strength and hope to, easing the trouble,” by the receiving the sacrament of reconciliation, through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

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