2nd Sunday of Advent

12-04-2022Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Are you aware that the future is rooted in the present moment and time? This means what we do now influences and shapes the future. We cannot really tell the future or “predict it”, but we can think rationally and logically about our present actions and how they influence the future. As people of faith, we know that our lives are in the hands of God and also we know that we do not control our lives. To some extent the future is now. Our present acts and attitudes create our future.

When we know the story of John the Baptist we realize that he is certain in understanding his role in life. He knew he is to announce the coming Messiah and to prepare the waiting world to receive him. We also learn that his followers did not really understand his role.

Lots of people from all over Israel and slightly beyond come to hear the message of John. He was announcing that repentance is needed by everyone. Because of this message some wondered if he was a new Elijah because his ascetic desert life seemed to be a sign. Many came forward to receive his baptism of repentance, including Sadducees and Pharisees. Our Gospel writers hold these two groups accountable for the many people who do not come to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. Matthew, as a Gospel writer, strongly blamed these two groups of Jewish religious leaders for this failure. John also added an additional insult by saying they should not take pride in being “sons of Abraham”, a title they were so very proud of in their day. We learn in this gospel that “the Good News of Salvation” will be brought by someone greater than the Sadducees or Pharisees, or even John himself.

Our first passage of scripture this weekend helps us to understand that Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah. We come to see that Jesus is the one upon whom the Spirit rests and that he alone offers those gifts with which we are all familiar: wisdom and understanding, counsel and strength, knowledge and fear of the Lord. Are you aware that this passage has influenced Christian art and is found especially in images we have in Christmas cards.

The images found in Isaiah of opposites such as the lion and the ox etc. help us to start to grasp the imagined and the actual wonders of God’s salvation. We come to understand that with God the impossible is possible. Our reading from Isaiah helps us to understand the impossible can and may happen by God’s grace and power. Our Gospel passage tells us through the words of John that this impossible has happened and His name is Jesus Christ.