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Second Sunday of Advent

December 5, 2004

Blessed Sunday!

Isaiah 11:1-10
Psalm 72: 1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17 “Justice shall flourish in His time, and fullness of peace forever”
Romans 15: 4-9
+ Matthew 3: 1-12

The joy of Heaven is dependent upon the kingship of Christ. If we’re trying to obey anybody else, ourselves included, we’re going to be miserable. Only God knows the way we should go. Only He can lead us into eternal life, and to the extent that we’re out of step with Him, we’re on the road to self-destruction.

Isaiah brings this out by talking about the Kingship of the coming Messiah, the one who will rule with justice, who will destroy the wicked. It is because of the order that He brings within His Kingdom that it’s so safe, that the lamb has no fear of the lion, that the baby can play on the snake’s lair. If even one animal, never mind one person, were to rebel against the authority of the King, that sacred order would be broken, chaos would have a toehold, and fear would become a way of life. That’s what happened in the beginning. God created everything good, and because He is love, His leadership was completely designed to benefit His creatures. Everything He did, every command He gave, was for their happiness and perfection. That’s what leadership, true leadership, is all about. We’ve largely lost sight of that because our experience of leadership has been so corrupted by sin, by the selfishness of so-called “leaders” whose actions and commands are for their own benefit & not for the benefit of those entrusted to their care. Our whole understanding of leadership needs to be redeemed, which is why Jesus made such a big deal about leaders being the servant of all (Matthew 20:25-28).

Getting back to the beginning, first a group of the angels rebelled, led by Lucifer, the “Light Bearer”. They tried to improve upon God’s plans for their good. The trouble is, there’s nothing better than utter perfection. If you deviate from Truth, there’s nowhere to go except into lies. And evil came into being. The splendor of angelic glory warped itself into demonic horror. That evil intercepted the physical world in the form of the snake in the Garden of Eden, where God’s sacred order still reigned, where peace and joy were still absolute because obedience still laid claim to blessing. “God doesn’t want what’s best for you!”, hissed evil. “You’re better than God. Please yourself.” Adam fell for the lie, broke the sacred order of the tangible world, and joined the ranks of the devil. The sacred order was broken. Peace evaporated. Fear came into being. “I was afraid…so I hid” (Genesis 3:10). The lion was no longer at peace with the lamb. Man was no longer at peace with woman (he accused her). Man was no longer at peace with God. The source of blessing, the source of real joy had been rejected. The consequences were instantaneous. Even before Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden, the transformation within their own souls made them fear God and drove a wedge into their relationship with each other. God, who still loved them and still wanted only what was best for them (i.e., us), set in motion the plan by which the sacred order, our only hope for peace and joy, could be restored. The Son of God became man, not only teach us to love the sacred order, but to become a new Adam, who could restore our “yes” to the Father with His own blood. This is the King who invites us to His Kingdom. This is the leader who came that we might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10).

In the book of Romans, Paul urges us to be in union with each other according to Christ (Romans 15:5). If we’re all obeying the same King, we will all be within His sacred order, and we will be in unity, in peace. That doesn’t mean we will all be the same–any more than St. Thomas Aquinas was the same as St. Francis of Assisi. It means we will each be perfected in our uniqueness so that we fit together as the varying members of the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:12). It’s when we deviate from the King that we lose unity. There’s only one Truth; God. If we live in Him, we will be one. But there are more lies than there are liars, for deceits multiply like rabbits. If we try to live apart from Truth, there’s no hope of unity, only anarchy, chaos.

That’s why St. John the Baptist was so emphatic about repentance. Basically, repentance is rejecting the devil’s lie, rejecting chaos, and rejoining ranks with the King. It’s turning away from our own rebellion against God, away from our own rupture of the sacred order, and choosing to obey Him. It’s choosing to come back into His plan for our good, into His unity. It’s entering into His Kingdom, the fulfillment of which is heaven. Repentance is letting God do what’s best for us.

May we reclaim God’s model of leadership, that we might learn to trust His plans for us and welcome His reign.

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