Homily for II (2) Sunday of Advent Year B. 06-12-2020 by Fr. Lubem Robert Waya, osj.
First Reading: Isaiah 40: 1-5, 9-11
Psalm: Psalm 84(85): 9-10-11-12, 13-14
Second Reading: 2 Peter 3:4,6
Gospel: Mark 1:1-8
In the aftermath of Israel’s Passover from the bondage of Egypt in to the promised land, they savoured the goodness of their new land and soon became so rich and prosperous that they quickly abandoned the ways of their God. They began to think that they had no need of God anymore. Full of themselves, they began to make alliances with pagan nations who infiltrated the Holy Land with pagan worship, and what followed was disaster. The Kingdom of Israel was divided into two; the Northern kingdom was taken captive by Assyria, while the Southern kingdom was conquered by Babylon. Their land was destroyed and now in pagan land they were forced to serve other gods.
This experience of the people of Israel which occasioned the joyful song in our first reading today resonates with us too even more today. Today due to the unprecedented advancements in science and technology and the growth of knowledge, we live in so much comfort and experience a ‘better life’ such that humanity today thinks less of God. Living in total denial of God, we feel we do not need Him and that we can do it all alone by ourselves. However, certain happenings such as the recent experience of the covid-19 pandemic made us realise how impossible that can be, especially realising how powerless and susceptible we can be before a tiny virus, let alone an omnipotent God. For some this became an eye opener experience leading them to conversion to seek the face of God once again, realizing that no knowledge can save us except with the help of God. Like Israel, we too are only quick to remember to cry and call on God to come to our aid when we are in difficulty, and He does really answer us. Here, we have the assurance that our God always answers our prayers. Although after saving us from our predicaments we are in the same manner quick to forget yet again His goodness in our lives and we easily abandon His ways. That is why there are more people who call on God in their moments of adversity than in their moments of prosperity.
Like the people of Israel, in our lives too sometimes our most gracious and opportune moments are those uncomfortable moments of hardship that make us remember God. For them, suffering in pagan land made them to remember that they were once servants of the Most High God, and they quickly abandoned the false gods and turned in prayers to their God the Almighty with faith and confidence. They cried to Him and He heard their cry once again and sent His prophet to bring them the consoling news that He is coming to comfort them and bring them back to their land, though not without their cooperation. For the Lord to deliver them, they must prepare the way of the Lord. This same message applies to us too and in the same manner as well.
We too in this season of advent, await the Lord’s coming to deliver us from suffering, most especially from the bondage and slavery of sin. We also like Israel, have to be ready and willing by preparing the way of the Lord in our lives and straightening our paths before Him. This is the opportunity that advent avails for us so that we can receive Our Lord when He comes at Christmas. To help us achieve this the Church in her wisdom gives us four weeks for this season of advent to make this necessary preparation. Advent is therefore not just a season of expectant joy for the Lord’s coming but also first of all a penitential season of conversion, to make right our ways with the Lord and with one another so that we can be able to receive the Lord and see His glory when He comes. That is why we have a double invitation in our first reading and the gospel to ‘prepare a way for the Lord, and make His paths straight.’ It behooves us then to check the rough patches of our lives (our sins) and straighten them so that the Lord can have a smooth ride into our lives. Ask yourself then, how well are you making use of this advent? Are you ready to chisel away the rough sinful patches?
In addition, to be ready for the Lord’s coming in this advent, our preparation cannot be complete unless we key into the style of John the Baptist who came to announce His coming. John’s one and only passion was to point others to Jesus Christ and to the coming of His kingdom. This means that our preparation cannot be perfect if it ends with us. Instead, it must above all look out of ourselves to lead others also to Christ. Do you lead others to Christ or do you chase them away from Christ or do you draw them to yourself? As true Christians we must attract others to Christ not just by our words but most importantly by the testimony of our lives. A Christian who cannot lead others to Christ is a failure, and the one who draws people to himself is an attention seeker and not a servant of God. For us to lead others to Christ our lives must be led by the Spirit, because it is the Spirit of God that can animate us into being selflessness.
One who has the Spirit of God bears those fruits of the Spirit as Paul enumerates in his letter to the Galatians 5:22-23 – the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. John the Baptist was imbued with the Spirit from the womb when he leapt at the greeting of Mary to his mother Elizabeth. So, his life was led by the Spirit, and that is why he bore these fruits. We also at our baptism receive the same Spirit, so how come we are not bearing the fruits of the Spirit? It means we are suffocating God’s Spirit in us and have allowed our lives to be led by the flesh. Hence, we instead bear the fruits of the flesh that Paul lists also in Galatians 5:19-21, that the works of the flesh are; fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing. Advent is a moment to cut away these works of the flesh.
Ask yourself today then, are you bearing fruits of the Spirit or works of the flesh? Is your life governed by the Spirit or by the passions of the flesh? Christ tells us in Matthew 7:20, that by their fruits you shall know them. Therefore, the fruits we bear would show what governs our lives. If your life is ruled by the flesh, make hay while the sun still shines and make the best use of this season of advent, prepare the way of the Lord by repenting of your evil and turning away from your sinful ways. The Lord will forgive you and at His coming, He will find in your heart a suitable dwelling. May the Lord help us and keep alive in us His Spirit so that we can make a good preparation for His coming, also bearing witness to the truth of His gospel by pointing others to Him by the example of our lives. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.