2nd Sunday of Advent – Year A
(Is. 11: 1-10; Rm. 15: 4-9; Mt. 3: 1-12)
The plight of Christians of the East, particularly that of the faithful and of the nuns who were removed by force from Maaloulah (Syria), and that, no less tragic, of the Christian West, reminds us of the need for a renewal of salvation such as that of re-evangelization. The Savior indeed came to this land of the East. Twenty centuries after his first advent, these same regions are in need of him more than ever, of his blood so that the shedding of blood ceases, of his body so that “everybody acknowledges God’s salvation” and that slaves of the flesh are liberated. They need his Gospel of peace to neutralize religious ideologies of violence, of war that does not spare any killing or genocide (in Africa as well). In the West, many individuals and societies “lost the North” (in Armenian the north is indicated by “Hissousayin”, the direction of Jesus! It is high time that persons like John the Baptist cry out aloud again, preaching conversion, which in Aramaic, in Hebrew (and in Arabic) mean a “return” to God, to the Gospel, to the Church, to the ten Commandments, to the sanctification of marriage, to the transmission of life, “the light of men”, to the “civilization of love” in contrast to the love of civilization that we are experiencing in the midst of the agnostic or anti-Christian centers…
Isaiah 11: 1-10: the kingdom of the Emmanuel Messiah
“This oracle is tied to Is. 9: 1-6 and 7:14. These passages describe the ideal king, from the lineage of David…” (Coppens, “Meeting God”). Some commentaries even Catholic do not go further! There you are! It is a question of a Davidic sovereign. Bur who? No answer! Unfortunately, this diplomatic silence insinuates that we do not deal in here with a prophecy about Christ the Messiah, son of David, descendent of Jesse! Other commentators admit though that this passage describes the “Messianic era”. Not bad! But the bad thing, is that they do not dare confirm (who were they afraid of?) that the Messiah king, hero of this era is called Jesus Christ!
Fortunately, other commentators, definitely more catholic and less scientific, such as A. Penna and H. Wansbrough, “dare” talk about the relation between Isaiah and Matthew 2, while emphasizing that “Emmanuel, God with us” (that was literally realized in Jesus Incarnation, and in Him alone) constitute “the key-note of Christology and the Ecclesiology of the Gospel of St. Matthew”.
In contradiction to our Savior and the Gospel of salvation that call upon us to “dare” (the verb παρρησιαζομαι is repeated 9 times and the term παρρησια “audacity” 31 times in the New Testament), some of our Christians who became very shy to express our faith, and sometimes dauntless in defending and lauding other religions and denominations.
Without wishing to judge the scholars in question, we can say, without offending the susceptibility of anyone or infringe upon ‘human rights’, that it is Jesus, the Davidic King Messiah and Savior, the prince of peace who not only lived in the ‘pax romana’, but also who has proclaimed in his lifetime and his teachings, love, gentleness, forgiveness, non-violence, and reconciliation. As judiciously noted by Jean-Jacques Walter, Christ’s principles have conquered former barbarian peoples. Nations, sooner or later, follow their sacred books. No wonder that Christians are the most peaceful while others never cease to engage even in fratricidal wars.
Rm. 15: 4-9: lessons from the Old Covenant
Perchance, we note that some tend to eliminate the expression “Old Covenant” (as if it did not exist in the Scripture or as if it were indecent and offensive) so that it is systematically replaced by “First Covenant”, as though it were only a matter of numbers and chronology!
St. Paul wrote to the Romans that all that had been reported in the Old Covenant aimed to educate us. Perfect! The Pauline context invites us at distinguishing between the descriptive texts that all they do is to narrate facts that, at times, are regrettable and reprehensible. In such a case, the lesson is not to repeat them! While there are commandment texts: laws; and prophecies.
Salvation of the Messiah, realized once for all on his royal throne of the Cross can be fulfilled constantly in our penitent hearts that are desirous of deliverance!
Fr. Peter Madros