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Second Sunday of Advent

December 5, 2010

Blessed Sunday!

God of power and mercy,
open our hearts in welcome.
Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy,
so that we may share His wisdom
and become one with Him
when He comes in glory,
for He lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen
(Opening Prayer from Mass)

Readings:
Isaiah 11:1-10 (there shall be no harm on God’s holy mountain)
Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17 “Justice shall flourish in His time, and fullness of peace forever”
Romans 15:4-9 (God’s patience & encouragement will help us live in harmony)
+ Matthew 3:1-12 (give evidence of your reform)

The child shall lay his hand on the adder’s lair
-Isaiah 11:8

This is the Child for Whose coming we prepare,
the Child Who will usher in a Kingdom of perfect peace and harmony (see Isaiah 11:6-8).
He has His work cut out for Him…

When [John the Baptist] saw that many of the Pharisees and Sadducees
were stepping forward for this bath, he said to them
“You brood of vipers! Who told you to flee from the wrath to come?
Give some evidence that you mean to reform.”
-Matthew 3:7-8

Adders are a type of viper.
Both symbolize the venom of sin,
drawn from the fangs of the ancient serpent himself (see Revelation 12:9).

Jesus came to lay His Hand on the adder’s lair,
to lay His Hand on the den of those who wanted to appear holy
without actually becoming holy.
He came to meet sin on its own turf, as it were;
in its lair, knowing full well what would happen.

He knew that sin would kill Him.
That’s what sin does. It kills.

…when sin reaches maturity it begets death
-James 1:15

But it could not hold Him.

…it was impossible that death should keep its hold on Him
-Acts 2:24

He has robbed death of its power
-I Timothy 1:10

That’s how this little Child conquers.
He takes on Himself the worst that evil can dish out,
allowing it to spend itself completely.
Then He transforms that evil into glory, rising, triumphant, on the other side.

Now it’s our turn. The Child Jesus has initiated a game of “follow the Leader.”

Through baptism into His death, we were buried with Him,
so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,
we too might live a new life…
you must consider yourself dead to sin but alive for Christ Jesus.
-Romans 6:4, 11

In Baptism we follow Christ, plunging headlong into death.
We die to sin, and rise with Him to a new life of holiness.

Sin will no longer have power over you
-Romans 6:14

There shall be no harm or ruin on all My holy mountain
-Isaiah 11:9

So why does sin still feel so powerful?
How do we explain all the harm and ruin?

First of all, Baptism is not simply an event. It’s a beginning.
Our new life in Christ needs to be nourished, nurtured, strengthened, and put into practise.
Neglected, it will wither and die.
That’s why God gives seasons of penance, like Advent,
to encourage us to cultivate our Baptismal life.

Secondly, sin’s power is an illusion. The power is ours, to say “yes” or “no.”
No force whatsoever can compel our will.
Likewise, harm and ruin are illusions.
God never permits anything to happen
unless He’s prepared to turn it to our eternal advantage (see Romans 8:28).

The Child has laid His hand on the adder’s lair.

You have no more evil to fear
-Zephaniah 3:15

…but you have Baptismal work to do!

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