YEAR A: 2ND SUNDAY OF ADVENT HOMILY. (3)







YEAR A: 2ND SUNDAY OF ADVENT HOMILY.

THEME: Repentance for the Kingdom of God.

BY: Fr. Anthony O. EZEAPUTA, MA.

 

Our gospel reading for this Sunday (Matthew 3:1–12) emphasizes repentance as a requirement for the coming of God’s kingdom through John the Baptist. Also, by giving a full picture of Christ’s forerunner, Matthew wants to show that Christ can be found in unexpected places or speak to us through unusual people, which is a big part of the Advent and Christmas seasons.

In this day and age, John fits the definition of a weird, rough, and messy person. He dresses in camel’s hair, wears a leather belt around his waist, and eats locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4). Moreover, he is not politically correct but rather direct (Matthew 14:4), which would make him unpopular if he lived in our time. Notwithstanding, people were drawn to him, listening to what he had to say, and deciding to be baptized.

Obviously, we will hear stories of God coming in unexpected ways throughout the Advent season, which will lead us to Christmas, beginning with this weird preacher in the desert and culminating with the birth of Jesus in a manger. John the Baptist’s strange appearance and way of life could have made it harder for him to spread the good news.

RELATED: YEAR A: 4TH SUNDAY OF ADVENT HOMILY.

You may have met someone for the first time and disliked them right away. Maybe you couldn’t put your finger on it, but something about their personality bothered you. On the other hand, if you have a favorable first impression of someone, you are more willing to give them a chance, even if they do not appear to be perfect on paper. In either case, first impressions are not always accurate.

Just because we have a good or negative first impression of someone does not necessarily imply that they are a nice or bad person. Before making personality judgments based on someone, it is important to get to know that person. Moreover, as the saying goes, “All that glitters is not gold.”

We can learn from the messy portrait of John the Baptist that God sometimes comes to us through those we would never expect to be his messengers. As a result, the Advent season insists on reminding us to keep our eyes open for the truth that God often comes or speaks in unexpected ways.

Another theme from our gospel passage today is repentance and the kingdom of God. The Jordan River was the point at which the Israelites emerged from their wilderness wanderings and entered the Promised Land. However, almost 1200 years later, John the Baptist summoned their descendants to the same Jordan River, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2).

Two biblical and Jewish concepts are useful in understanding the Baptist’s exhortation (Matthew 3:2). They are the Hebrew word “Teshuvah” and the Greek word “Metanoia.”

“Teshuvah” literally means “return,” whereas “metanoia” literally means “to change your mind.” While “Teshuvah” describes the return to God and our fellow human beings that is made possible through repentance of our sins “Metanoia,” on the other hand, is the state of thinking differently, of having changed my mind as a result of some type of encounter with reality.

“Teshuvah,” that is, to return to God, entails that a person who has sinned feels remorseful about it, stops the sin, confesses the sin, makes restitution (does everything they can to fix the damage), and decides not to do it again. “Metanoia,” that is, “changing your mind,” entails a holistic conversion from sin to the practice of virtue.

When John says, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” he is basically saying: change your mind about sin and return to God because the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of God is a person, Jesus Christ, and he is at hand. And we prepare for the kingdom of God by modeling our lives after Jesus Christ.

Additionally, the type of “repentance” to which John calls his audience is far more than “being sorry.” It entails a radical change in attitudes and hearts. It is a total transformation of priorities, as well as the beginning and end of all that is not God. This type of repentance is not only “returning back to Jesus,” but also running away from anything that separates us from the kingdom, which is Jesus Christ.

Today, let us resolve to be on the lookout for Jesus, who can come to us in many unexpected ways. We are called to be part of the Kingdom of God, but it requires a holistic conversion, a return to God, and the practice of virtues. Have a blessed Advent season as well as a fantastic Sunday. Please be certain that I am praying for you, and pray for me, too.

 

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