Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Is Paradise in the Picture?---Second Sunday of Advent

December 9, 2007 Year A

Second Sunday of Advent

Reflections on the Readings

By Dennis Hankins

Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17;

Romans 15:4-9; Matthew 3:1-12

Theme:  Is Paradise in the Picture?

Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

The idyllic and pastoral setting described by Isaiah is reminiscent of the Garden of Eden.  The coming of the Lord inspired the prophet to anticipate the glory of the Lord covering the earth as the waters cover the sea.  All of this utterance of Isaiah bespeaks of the blessing of the Lord.  And that blessing is to be expansive and enlightening.  So much is this so that Isaiah boldly announces all nations shall seek him.  

It is Isaiah 40:3, which Matthew uses to explain who John the Baptist is.  We read: For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.  In his preaching, John the Baptist calls the people of the Old Covenant to come back to the Lord, to prepare themselves for the promises of the Old Covenant about to be revealed.  The baptism of John was not the sacramental baptism of the New Covenant.  However, it was a necessary token of repentance and spiritual preparation for the coming Messiah.  

The passage of Isaiah Matthew cites continues with the enduring promise of truth and justice the Messiah brings.  We read:  Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places plain.  And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Advent is not only about the First Coming of the Lord.  In our preparation for Christmas, we anticipate the final Day when the restoration of all things is complete; when by Him all things are made new.  The Day of the Lord is both now and not yet.  Therefore, we anticipate and meditate on the promise of Paradise regained.  In this life we ask to be like Jesus, to be interiorly prepared as a sanctuary of the Lord.  We seek again in this expectant season of Advent to be at peace with God and with our neighbor.  This kind of spiritual makeover brings us to ask again for that fellowship with the Holy Three In One, lost in that First Paradise, but now restored in the Son, our Tree of Life in the midst of the Garden of God.  Such harmony with God and one another is the calling of Advent.  Let us with Mary, ponder again the meaning and nearness of the coming of the Lord.

Yes my friend, better news than Virginia learned about Santa Claus, Paradise is before us.  It is our privilege in Advent to seek more to be pleasing than to be pleased.  In the garden of our heart at this holy time we gain courage to say, "Not my will, but thine be done."  In this prayer is the Peace of Paradise restored, and a new creation emerges. 

Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.  And every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (I John 3:2-3)  

Let us pray:  Dear Jesus, Come into my heart, come into my heart. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.  Come in today, come in to stay, come into my heart Lord Jesus.  Paradise restored, behold, you make all things new! Amen.  



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