Advent Reflection, Second Sunday of Advent, Dec. 4th, 2016
“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Mt. 3: 11
As the Church enters the second week of Advent, the readings are full of both promises and warnings about the coming of the long-awaited King. In the prophecy of Isaiah, we hear that this promised King will bring wisdom, understanding, justice, and peace, “and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.” These gifts of the Holy Spirit will be poured out on all, “and the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord.” In the second reading, Paul confirms that although Christ came first to the chosen people of Israel, even the Gentiles will seek out the King of all nations, praising and glorifying His mercy.
Finally, in the Gospel reading we hear John the Baptist warning of the wrath of the expected King, saying, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
These seem like two very different images: the King of peace contrasts sharply with the image of the King of justice with His winnowing fan in His hand. But just as both wisdom and fear are numbered among the gifts of the Holy Spirit, both are necessary. Wisdom serves to remind us of the fearful magnificence and glory of God, lest we forget that the loving and merciful Father is the King whose justice never fails. He generously gives us every help and every tender mercy, but ultimately, He calls us to respond in obedience, to grow in holiness, and to bear the fruit of our repentance in our lives.
Let us prepare our hearts for the coming of the King during this Advent season by accepting God’s loving invitation to true repentance.
Readings, Second Sunday of Advent, Dec. 4th, 2016
Is 11:1-10 ~ Rom 15:4-9 ~ Mt 3:1-12