Weekly Reflection (8 Dec 2019)

2nd Sunday Of Advent Year A

Isaiah 11:1-10
Romans 15:4-9
Matthew 3:1-12

Theme of the week: The path to true peace and salvation is through our hearts.

In the Responsorial Psalm this week, we pray “Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.” Have you ever wondered what does true peace look and feel like?

We tend to think of peace as a state where there is no conflict. The First Reading the previous week spoke of nations not lifting up sword against nations (verse Isa 2:4). The Second Reading this week speaks of peace at a more personal level, where under the grace of God, we may “live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus” (verse 5).

The First Reading this week gives us a poetic vision of what true peace feels like. David and his son Solomon were God-fearing wise kings. However, the same cannot be said of their descendants. The First Reading foretells a future great king to emerge out of David’s lineage, “the stump of Jesse” (verse 1) (Jesse was the father of King David). This great king will rule with wisdom, and true peace will prevail. This King is none other our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. Elaborating on the eternal peace described in the previous week’s First Reading, the second part of this reading paints a poetic imagery of the kind of peace that God people will enjoy, where wolf and lamb co-exist peacefully and an infant can play safely over a cobra’s nest.

If we look at today’s world, harmony eludes us. Conflicts are everywhere – among nations, social groups and individuals. In the midst of these conflicts, how are we ever going to achieve harmony as portrayed by the Second Reading – harmony “in accordance with Christ Jesus” (verse 5)? The key phrase here is “in accordance with Christ Jesus”, for the root of all conflicts is sin. Many of our conflicts are rooted in human weaknesses – selfishness, pride, greed, anger and envy. Indeed, true harmony is only achievable if we constantly strive to live by Christ’s teachings. Hence, before we can achieve peace among nations, social groups and individuals, we must first achieve true peace within oneself. How do we do that? This is a three step process of reflect, renounce and repent.

  1. Many of us are reluctant to see our own faults. It is only through formation and honest reflection that we may realise our shortcomings. This takes great humility.
  2. Having realise our shortcomings, we need to make a genuine and sincere attempt to renounce our sins, to free ourselves from them. This takes great effort.
  3. The final step is to repent - to seek God’s forgiveness. This takes grace.

True peace originates from our hearts. Only when we achieve true peace in our hearts that we may extent peace to others around us, to the society and beyond. The Gospel tells the story of John the Baptist baptising at River Jordan. John’s blunt message to the Pharisees and Sadducees (verse 7-10) is an apt reminder to those us who assume that being called Christians is enough to earn us salvation. In the final judgement, it is not who we are that matters, but what is in our hearts. Indeed, salvation comes only to those who repent. Reflect, renounce and repentance – this is the path to true peace. In the Gospel, we heard of how people from all walks of life coming to John the Baptist to be baptised, to repent their sins. “Bear fruit worthy of repentance. … Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (verse 8, 10).

Christmas is almost upon us. Let us use these weeks of preparation to form our hearts. For the gift of true peace and universal salvation, alleluia!

 



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