Advent 01, Year A-2010

From Vincentian Encyclopedia
The daybreak from on high will visit us ... to guide our feet into the path of peace (Lk. 1:78-79—NAB)

According to last Sunday’s second reading (Col. 1:12-20), we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, in Jesus Christ, the king of the universe. Through his beloved Son, God reconciles to himself all things, making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Clearly, kingly Messiaship has everything to do with peace and reconciliation. It is equally clear, however, that it is a matter of peace and reconciliation through weakness, which most people find rather absurd, as is exemplified in the mockery received by Jesus on the cross.

Our human experience shows that power mostly wreaks havoc, showing itself and reeling its ugly head time and again, for instance, in what today’s second reading condemns—orgies and drunkenness, promiscuity and lust, rivalry and jealousy—and in passions, too, that give rise to internal and external wars and conflicts (Jas. 4:1-2). Hence, God brings about our salvation through what we ordinarily deem absurd: he destroys the wisdom of the wise and foils the intelligence of the intelligent; he proves his foolishness to be wiser than human wisdom and his weakness to be stronger than human strength (1 Cor. 1:18-25).

Sadly indeed, human wisdom and strength can hardly achieve peace and reconciliation. Human wisdom tends to be self-servingly opportunistic and deceptive. Instead of being pure, peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity, human wisdom has the propensity to give itself to bitter jealousy and selfish ambition (Jas. 3:13-18). Human strength, for its part, usually seeks to vanquish and subjugate [1]. Both, therefore, do not make for the communion and peace in the Lord’s mountain that the prophet Isaiah envisioned; they effectively exclude from their company those left poor by their manipulative, exploitive and oppressive business doings and dealings, and hence deemed despicable.

It only takes a crucified King, really, to bring about genuine peace and reconciliation. Such King is one who judges his people in righteousness and his afflicted ones with justice, who defends the oppressed and the poor, who rescues the poor when they cry out and the oppressed who have no one to help, who shows pity to the needy and the poor and saves their lives, freeing them from extortion and violence, precious that their blood is in his sight (Ps. 72). It is on the cross that our King judges between the nations and imposes terms on people, as he identifies thus with all the crucified poor and helpless people of the world. Those who fail to recognize Jesus in the poor and the helpless, those who end up despising the church of God and making those who have nothing feel ashamed, they only eat and drink judgment on themselves. Their pretense to belong to his communion and realm will fully be unmasked when the King bars them from his kingdom and sentences them, saying, “'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mt. 25:41).

Not a few, no doubt, think that the delay of the coming of the Son of Man in glory is a sign of weakness and indecision uncharacteristic of almighty royalty. But this only goes to show how grossly misunderstood and underestimated God’s foolishness and weakness are. It is widely forgotten, if not ignored, that with the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day, that he is not slow in keeping his promise but is only being patient since he does not want anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance (2 Pt. 3:8-12). The proof of God’s might is precisely his mercy and his patient waiting for repentance (Wis. 11:23). And if it is our unholy and ungodly lives that slow the Lord’s return in glory, as 2 Pt. 3 also indicates, then the greater our strength of will to do good—to borrow from today’s collect prayer—and the more eager we are to welcome the Lord’s coming, the sooner we will hear him call us to his side in the kingdom of heaven in order to grant us complete peace and reconciliation.


NOTE:

[1] Cf. Gaudium et Spes, 78-82.