2nd Sunday of Advent (12-09-07) Scripture Readings First Isaiah 11:1-10 Second Romans 15:4-9 Gospel Matthew 3:1-12 Prepared by: Fr.

Peter John Cameron, O.P. 1. Subject Matter

The graces of Advent reveal the expectation that is identical with being human; we recognize Jesus Christ because of an exceptionality that corresponds with that elemental expectation; we live in hope.

2. Exegetical Notes

“There shall be no harm or ruin…for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord:” “We are reminded of the programmatic passages where failure to know/understand is thr root cause of evil and the occasion for disaster” (JBC). “…by endurance and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope:” “When Jesus’ suffering is viewed against sacred history, it takes on a deeper meaning. Seen in this larger perspective, it gives Christians a basis for their hope” (Fitzmyer). “Matthew goes further than other evangelists by making John a ‘little Jesus,’ putting Jesus’ own central message in his mouth (cf. v 2 with 4:17)” (JBC).

3. References to the Catechism of the Catholic Church

522 God awakens in the hearts of the pagans a dim expectation of this coming [of Christ]. 524 When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah. 840 When one considers the future, God's People of the Old Covenant and the new People of God tend towards similar goals: expectation of the coming (or the return) of the Messiah. 1194 The Church, "in the course of the year, . . . unfolds the whole mystery of Christ from his Incarnation and Nativity through his Ascension, to Pentecost and the expectation of the blessed hope of the coming of the Lord" (SC 102 § 2).

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1818 The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude. 2090 Hope is the confident expectation of divine blessing and the beatific vision of God 2805 In praying the Our Father, we engage in “an offering up of our expectations, that draws down upon itself the eyes of the Father of mercies.”

4. Patristic Commentary and Other Authorities

St. John Chrysostom: “John the Baptist preaches what the Jews had never heard, not even from the Prophets: Heaven, namely, and the Kingdom that is there, and of the kingdoms of the earth he says nothing. Thus by the novelty of those things of which he speaks, he gains their attention to Him whom he preaches.” St. Gregory the Great: “Crying in the desert, because he shows to deserted and forlorn Judea the approaching consolation of her Redeemer.” REMIG. “In this clothing and this poor food, John the Baptist” shows that he sorrows for the sins of the whole human race.” St. Augustine: We who already believe the prophets who tell us of the resurrection and Christ and the apostles who preach it must also proclaim it ourselves; we who hope to live after that death must not lose courage, nor burden our hearts with debauchery and drunkenness, but prepared for action and with lamps burning, in eager expectation of our Lord’s coming, we must fast and pray, not because tomorrow we die, but to die without fear. John Cassian: “When someone begged Jesus to come and raise his dead daughter by laying his hand on her, he entered his house and granted what he was asking for in conformity with his expectations.” St. Gertrude the Great: “With love I hold you, most loving Jesus, nor shall I let you go; because your blessing is by no means sufficient for me unless I may hold you yourself and have my best share, all my hope and expectation.” Dorothy Day: Advent is a time of waiting, of expectation, of silence. Waiting for our Lord to be born…. To love with understanding and without understanding. To love blindly, and to folly. To see only what is lovable. To think only on these things. To see the best in everyone around, their virtues rather than their faults. To see Christ in them.” Fr. Hugo Rahner: “One of the happiest experiences in the world is when we look forward with the eager expectation of a child to a Christmas present or the surprise that we feel—or pretend, with a rather painful smile, to feel—when the packages lying under the Christmas tree are unwrapped. What is revealed in all this is a deep human longing…. My heart, my loving heart, is like a carefully locked Christmas present. It contains treasures that have still not been discovered. My love is new and full of surprises. It looks forward to receiving a gift in return. And it is renewed and made young again when it hears the only possible answer: I love you too.” Mother Marie des Douleurs: “The kind of expectation in which God wants to find our souls is an alert expectation, full of desire, full of love, not the expectation of change, but of the unfolding of our life of faith. Expectation does not mean inactivity, wasting time, or excitement; it means concentration on an object of desire worthy of us.”

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Pope John Paul II: “Faith is shown to be an authentic adventure of cognition, for it is not an abstract discourse, nor a vague religious sentiment, but a personal encounter with Christ, which bestows new meaning on life…. Only in the only-begotten Son of the Father can man find a full, exhaustive answer to his intimate and fundamental expectations…. We can thus conclude that the meaning of Christian hope, presented anew by Advent, is that of confident expectation, of hardworking willingness and joyful openness to the encounter with the Lord. He came to Bethlehem to remain with us for ever. Let us therefore nourish these days of immediate preparation for the Birth of Christ with the light and warmth of hope.” Msgr. Luigi Giussani: “If God became man, if he slipped into our crowd so that he were here now among us, recognizing him a priori should be easy. Why? Because of an exceptionality beyond compare. Why do you feel something ‘exceptional’ to be exceptional? Because it corresponds to the expectations of your heart, no matter how confused and nebulous they might be. It corresponds unexpectedly—unexpectedly!—to the irresistible, undeniable demands of your heart in a way you could never have imagined or predicted, because there is no one like this man. The exceptional is, paradoxically, the appearance of what is most natural for us. We approach exceptionality when something makes the heart beat for a correspondence that we think is valuable. It is the exceptionality with which the figure of Christ appears that makes it easy to recognize him.” Msgr. Luigi Giussani: “Man, in all of the ages of history, resists the consequence of the mystery made flesh, for, if this Event is true, then all aspects of life, including the sensible and the social, must revolve around it. And it is precisely man’s perception of being undermined, no longer being the measure of his own self, that places him in the position of refusal.” Fr. Julian Carron: “The situation of contemporary man is riddled with difficulties, but none of these can take away his heart’s expectation. The very nature of man’s heart moves him to hope…. Only the unique Presence of the Lord can move the person to the very depth of his heart’s expectation. We ourselves…will be transformed according to the glorious image that attracts our gaze. So we shall be able to reflect Christ’s light through the whole of our lives, so that men and women of our time find reasons for believing and hoping for the fulfillment of the promises inscribed in the depths of our hearts, revealed and realized fully in Christ’s Eucharistic self-giving.

5. Examples from the Saints and Other Exemplars

What enabled the martyrs and so many of the saints who face untellable suffering to persevere was the expectation they had of Christ’s closeness and power. In his new encyclical, Spe Salvi/Saved in Hope, Pope Benedict XVI draws our attention to a passage from a letter written by the Vietnamese martyr Paul Le-Bao-Tinh († 1857) which illustrates the “transformation of suffering through the power of hope springing from faith:” “I, Paul, in chains for the name of Christ, wish to relate to you the trials besetting me daily, in order that you may be inflamed with love for God and join with me in his praises, for his mercy is for ever (Ps 136 [135]). The prison here is a true image of everlasting Hell: to cruel tortures of every kind—shackles, iron chains, manacles—are added hatred, vengeance, calumnies, obscene speech, quarrels, evil acts, swearing, curses, as well as anguish and grief. But the God who once freed the three children from the fiery furnace is with me always; he has delivered me from these tribulations and made them sweet, for his mercy is for ever. In the midst of these torments, which usually terrify others, I am, by the grace of God, full of joy and

gladness, because I am not alone —Christ is with me ... How am I to bear with the spectacle, as each day I see emperors, mandarins, and their retinue blaspheming your holy name, O Lord, who are enthroned above the Cherubim and Seraphim? (cf. Ps 80:1 [79:2]). Behold, the pagans have trodden your Cross underfoot! Where is your glory? As I see all this, I would, in the ardent love I have for you, prefer to be torn limb from limb and to die as a witness to your love. O Lord, show your power, save me, sustain me, that in my infirmity your power may be shown and may be glorified before the nations ... Beloved brothers, as you hear all these things may you give endless thanks in joy to God, from whom every good proceeds; bless the Lord with me, for his mercy is for ever ... I write these things to you in order that your faith and mine may be united. In the midst of this storm I cast my anchor towards the throne of God, the anchor that is the lively hope in my heart.” (Spe Salvi, #37). 6. Quotations from Pope Benedict XVI
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“In their hearts, people always and everywhere have somehow expected a change, a transformation of the world.” “Eternal life is that mode of living, in the midst of our present earthly life, which is untouched by death because it reaches out beyond death. Eternal life in the midst of time. If we live in this way, then the hope of eternal fellowship with God will become the expectation that characterizes our existence, because some conception of its reality develops for us, and the beauty of it transforms us from within. Thus it becomes apparent that there is in this face-toface encounter with God…that very liberation from the self which alone makes any sense of eternity.” “That we might have hope” – “Hypo-mone is normally translated as ‘patience’— perseverance, constancy. Knowing how to wait, while patiently enduring trials, is necessary for the believer to be able to ‘receive what is promised’ (10:36). In the religious context of ancient Judaism, this word was used expressly for the expectation of God which was characteristic of Israel, for their persevering faithfulness to God on the basis of the certainty of the Covenant in a world which contradicts God. Thus the word indicates a lived hope, a life based on the certainty of hope. In the New Testament this expectation of God, this standing with God, takes on a new significance: in Christ, God has revealed himself. He has already communicated to us the “substance” of things to come, and thus the expectation of God acquires a new certainty. It is the expectation of things to come from the perspective of a present that is already given. It is a looking-forward in Christ’s presence, with Christ who is present, to the perfecting of his Body, to his definitive coming.” (Spe Salvi, #9). “When I can no longer talk to anyone or call upon anyone, I can always talk to God. When there is no longer anyone to help me deal with a need or expectation that goes beyond the human capacity for hope, he can help me.” (Spe Salvi, #32).

7. Other Considerations

“All Judea, and the whole region around the Jordan were going out to [John the Baptist] and were being baptized:” The whole world is filled with an inexorable expectation; the people “go out to John the Baptist” in the hope of having that expectation fulfilled.

Recommended Resources Benedict XVI, Pope. Spe Salvi/Saved in Hope (Holy Father’s new encyclical on hope) Benedict XVI, Pope. Benedictus. Yonkers: Magnificat, 2006. Cameron, Peter John. To Praise, To Bless, To Preach - Cycle A. Huntington: Our Sunday Visitor, 2001. Hahn, Scott: http://www.salvationhistory.com/library/scripture/churchandbible/homilyhelps/homilyhelps.cfm Lohr, Aemiliana. The Mass Through the Year: Volume One - Advent to Palm Sunday. Westminster: Newman, 1958. Merton, Thomas. Seasons of Celebration: Meditations on the Cycle of Liturgical Feasts. Gloucester: Peter Smith, 1983. Website: http://www.borromeo.org/reflect/homilies2007/homilyindex2007.htm Gregory Malovetz. -- by Msgr.

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