The Reign of Jesse’s Offspring
1 There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
3 His delight is in the fear of the Lord, and He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, nor decide by the hearing of His ears;
4 But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, and faithfulness the belt of His waist.
6 “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, nd the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.
9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
10 “And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious.”
Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19
Glory and Universality of the Messiah’s Reign
1 Give the king Your judgments, O God, and Your righteousness to the king’s Son.
2 He will judge Your people with righteousness, and Your poor with justice.
3 The mountains will bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness.
4 He will bring justice to the poor of the people; He will save the children of the needy, and will break in pieces the oppressor.
5 They shall fear You as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations.
6 He shall come down like rain upon the grass before mowing, like showers that water the earth.
7 In His days the righteous shall flourish, and abundance of peace, until the moon is no more.
18 Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, Who only does wondrous things!
19 And blessed be His glorious name forever! And let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen.
Glorify God Together
4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the perserverance and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
5 Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus,
6 that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.
8 Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a minister to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers,
9 and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: “For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, and sing to Your name.”
10 And again he says: “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!”
11 And again: “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!”
12 And again, Isaiah says: “There shall be a root of Jesse; and He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, in Him the Gentiles shall hope.”
13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
John the Baptist Prepares the Way
3 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.’ ”
4 Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.
5 Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him
6 and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance,
9 and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
10 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
This homily is prepared by Reverend Monsignor Russell G. Terra, Pastor Emeritus of Saint Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Redding, CA.
2nd Sunday of Advent
December 8, 2019
“Authenticity, or Appearance?”
My Brothers and Sisters in the Lord –
We live in a culture of appearances. Far too many today are overly concerned about how they look – and about what people will think of them. Many politicians will say whatever their constituencies want to hear – instead of what is good and best for our country. Many people will believe anything they hear or read especially on social media – only later to regret having been “taken in”.
Moreover, our system is so broken that people are judged, rejected, and even condemned over something that happened long ago in their past – something that in no way defines who or what they are today!
However, worst of all is that those who judge, reject, or condemn others are often self-righteous. They fail to see or can’t admit the truth about themselves and their own faults. Fortunately, the scriptures for today have much to teach us in this regard.
Isaiah speaks of one who is to come who will not judge by appearances. The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon him. He will not base his decisions on hearsay. He will stand for justice. He will be faithful to all that God asks – And he will be faithful to all those he has come to serve and liberate.
Of course, Isaiah is speaking of Jesus Christ whom we know has come for our deliverance and salvation. Indeed, Jesus has inaugurated the Kingdom of God which finds root in the hearts of all authentic disciples. It is a kingdom of peace, wherein we can shield ourselves from the duplicity, the dishonesty, and the artificiality of our current culture!
In the Gospel of Matthew, John the Baptist urges us all to repent and to change – especially from the dishonesty within ourselves. Few of us are people of complete integrity. Most of us are hiding something – and most of us want to appear better or more than who we really are.
However, we must become disciples who aspire to honesty and integrity. We cannot be like the Pharisees and the Sadducees of today’s Gospel. They came with everyone else to the Jordan – But their coming was only for the sake of appearances. They were far from the conversion and repentance that John was urging. And, as such, they would not escape the wrath of God. For they would not be able to accept the truths, the gifts, and the salvation that Jesus came to bring!
Furthermore, salvation does not depend upon heredity, position, or the false worship of going through the motions of religious observance!
In his Letter to the Romans, St. Paul reminds us that we have a history. It is the history of our salvation recorded in the Old and New Testaments – all of which was written for our instruction. It is there to encourage us and help us to endure the hardships we face. It also gives us a well-founded hope in what Jesus has promised!
St. Paul also teaches us that we are a community of disciples who live lives of faith. We truly need the support of one another. And we must look beneath the appearances of others and discover the truth that lives within them.
Brothers and Sisters, Jesus came to unleash the fire of God which is the Holy Spirit. That Spirit is the same spirit of which Isaiah spoke and the same Spirit that Jesus, himself, possessed. The Spirit of the Lord can and does rest upon us – and it gives us the power to do that which is beyond us – or what we think might be beyond us.
It is the Spirit that enables us to rise above the surrounding culture, strip away falsehood, and come to the truth that can set us free.
So, as we prepare for the Birth of God’s Son, – may we allow that Spirit to work within us, so that we truly become all that God has created us to be!
December 8, 2019 Msgr. Russell G. Terra