Sunday, December 4, 2016 - Second Sunday of Advent

Advent 2016

"But In This World of Sin"


            Advent always seems to us a season of contradictions.  Why is it that these weeks which are supposed to produce in us contemplation and reflection tend to keep us busy and preoccupied, not with God, but with ourselves?  Why is it that these days of peace and joy often produce just the opposite?  Why is it that this holy season sometimes leaves us with our minds too full and our hearts too empty?  The contradictions of Advent:  we all live with them.

            This was precisely the message offered by the prophet of righteousness called John the Baptist.  It is no accident that our Gospel lesson for the second Sunday in Advent this year focuses upon John, that "voice crying in the wilderness" (Matthew 3:1-12).  John described some within the nation of Israel to be a brood of vipers, that is to say, a bunch of snakes, persons fully capable of the deadliest sort of action.  Worse than that, John said they were inconsistent personalities, like trees which produce the wrong kind of fruit.  These were the religious leaders of the day, but they were filled with all kinds of contradictions. 

            In these weeks of Advent, we anticipate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We speak of him as our Prince of Peace, one who came into the world to heal broken relationships, to love, to restore in us our true humanity.  And yet, our world at times reflects anything but that transformation.  We sing all the way to Christmas Day about this Christ child who came to us to show us God's love and how all of creation would one day live in harmony, but reality suggests otherwise. 

            No matter how much we may want to avoid the issue, no matter how much we may desire to hide from the facts, John the Baptist's sermon was true.  We are called to honest confession and faith, to repentance and baptism.  And this is because, at our core, we are contradictory people.  We are made in God's image, but we are still a part of the brokenness of our world.  Human beings are the crown jewel of creation, capable of enormous good, but nevertheless marred by sin and distorted by selfishness.  One aspect of the Lord's Advent when he comes is the full revelation of the kind of persons we are and the consequences of character and conduct which await us.  What Matthew recorded the angel as saying to Joseph was true:  "Call the boy Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."  


-- John Finley



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