2nd Sunday Of Advent Year C
Theme of the week: Let us repent our sins and lead true Christian lives.
Is there a sin that has such a hold on you that your find it hard to let go? Perhaps it is so ingrained in you that you find it hard to acknowledge it as a fault; or perhaps you find yourselves always justifying your actions?
What is the effect of such a sin on my life? When I sin, I disobey God’s Commandments and turn my back on Him. And as sin becomes habitual and it becomes harder and harder to break the habit. I become enslaved to sin as it takes hold of my life. As I walk further and further away from God, I exile myself into spiritual wilderness. As part of our preparation to welcome our Lord Jesus at Christmas, this week’s readings offer us a chance at redemption from this destructive cycle. The Scripture urges us to repent our sin, so that Christ may enter our hearts once again.
Chapter 4 of the Book of Baruch describes how the Israelites provoked God: “For you provoked the one who made you by sacrificing to demons and not to God.” (Bar 4:7). As a result of their disobedience, God lifted his protection over the Israelites. They were consequently conquered by a foreign power and exiled to Babylon. While their physical bodies were exiled to Babylon, their souls too were exiled – exiled to spiritual wilderness. Upon showing repentance, Chapter 5 describes how God forgave them, smoothed the path and led them back home to the Holy Land: “For God has ordered that every high mountain and the everlasting hills be made low and the valleys filled up, to make level ground” (verse 7). And as their physical bodies returned from exile, so too did their souls. God once again held His protective hand over the people, “so that Israel may walk safely in the glory of God” (verse 7). Praise be to God.
The imagery of the wilderness is invoked once again in the Gospel, with John the Baptist proclaiming in the wilderness the coming of the Lord. John echoed the same message as the Frist Reading: that we should repent for our sins; and God will forgive us and lead us back from spiritual wilderness. Let us reflect upon this: like the Israelites, the path will be straightened too for me to welcome the Lord back into my heart. All it takes is a penitent heart.
Beyond repentance, we are urged to put on a new life, a new life in Christian living. Using the examples of the Philippians, the Second Reading provides us three practices to emulate:
- Evangelise. Evangelisation is the mission of John the Baptist, and is also the mission given to every Christians (verse 5). “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” (Mk 16:15) We are called to be so on fire with God’s love that it becomes impossible for us to keep it to ourselves, as the prophet Jeremiah explained it in Jer 20:9, “If I say, ‘I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name’, then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.”
- Love. We should love each other, yes, even our enemies; and increasingly so with each passing day (verse 9).
- Learn. We should never stop improving our knowledge of God and our insight into His will (verse 9), so that we may know “what is best” (verse 10) for us.
Let this be our reflection for the week: As I prepare for the coming of the Christ-Child, let me challenge myself to lead true Christian lives, through repentance, evangelisation, loving and learning. Amen.