December 23, 2016
“The Desire of All Nations”
Bishop Ariel Cornelio P. Santos
We continue to look forward to the coming of our King. Today, we particularly wait for Him who is the Desire of all Nations. The version read to us from the prophet Haggai does not fully expressed what the old versions actually said that it is not the wealth of nations that will come. It is the Desire of Nations. It is the need that which is lacking, that which we do not have and crave for satisfaction, that only the Desire of Nations can give to us.
We were created with a dependence on our Creator. It is there. Only He can fill that empty space, that void in our hearts and in our lives. The problem with humanity is we look for other sources for that answer. We look to material things; we look to power. We look to taking advantage of others; we look to advancing ourselves. It is like we have a thirst and we satisfy our thirst with salt water. Try running or sprinting for 100 or 200 meters, and then when you’re panting, go to Manila Bay and drink from that water. Better yet, go to Egypt (and drink) from the Red Sea. Get water from there and then drink. However, it will not satisfy us, and what will happen is that it will make our need worse. This is what we have been doing not realizing that only God can satisfy our need.
St. Athanasius and all the other fathers said, in paraphrasing the future in the Parable of the Vine and the Branches, Jesus said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” They said that our life is nothing, and it cannot continue if we’re not connected to the source. That is what we need to realize. Our hearts, our souls, our spirits are crying out for the Desire of Nations. Only He can satisfy this need.
We should learn from Solomon who had the wealth that he had accumulated that any man would dream of. He had 300 wives and 700 concubines. He says, “This will not satisfy your need, only the Desire of Nations can satisfy your need”. The prodigal son realized this. He got his material inheritance, squandered it, and then realized, “Hey, even the least of the servants in my father’s house is satisfied. What am I doing here looking for satisfaction outside of the source of satisfaction?” So our hearts cry, “Come, Desire of Nations, come.” “As the deer pants for the water, so our soul longs for You. Fix in us, Thy humble home.”
My favorite Christmas songs says, “Come, Desire of Nations, come, fix in us Thy humble home. Rise, oh woman’s conquering seed. Bruise in us the serpent’s head. Adam’s likeness now effaced. Stamp Thine image in its place.” We all know that man sinned and we started craving for that pre-fall union fellowship bond with God. As a metaphor, when God addressed the woman after man sinned, He said to the woman. “Your desire shall be for your husband, the husband who failed you, the first Adam who used to be able to give you the satisfaction that you needed”. Now, all of creation, all of humankind has been subjected to this futility. Now, we desire for a second Adam which is only in the person of Jesus, the Desire of Nations. Only He can provide satisfaction from death. I have heard of successful people with wealth and with material provisions saying, “These things do not satisfy me.” There really is just that emptiness that only God can fill, that only Being in the life of His community, of His church can fulfil.
People constantly search for an answer. It is not out there. It is in the Desire of Nations. It is in the cry of our hearts. The promise to us is He shall come. He will satisfy the need that is in us. How? One major way is in the song in our prayer today that says, “Bind in one the hearts of all mankind.” I emphasize this word “all.” “Bid our sad divisions cease.” Our divisions are sad whether we realize it or not. “Bid our sad divisions cease and be Thyself our King of peace.” We are divisive - even as the Church, even as the professing children of God. Let’s face it. We think ourselves exclusive – thinking that we belong to an elite club, to an exclusive club of chosen people. We actually interpret Scriptures, like “I will shake the nations.”
God wants to rid us of impurities. We think Gentiles are not the chosen – only we are. Bid our sad division cease. Bind in one the hearts of all (say all) mankind. Our God, the Desire of Nations, does not want any to perish, including the person you think is the most evil of all. God‘s heart, His sole desire is for that soul to find and discover the Desire of Nations. How many one true churches are there? There is a plurality of the one, true Church; an exclusivity, which is not the heart of the Father. This is part of our desire to be fulfilled. We think that our being chosen would satisfy that, but no, bind in one the hearts of all mankind.
Divisions are sad. What makes it all the more sad is this: those who are called to be ambassadors of reconciliation are actually ambassadors of division, ambassadors of exclusivity. They claim to have a monopoly of the truth, which is sad. We look at ourselves as servants. In the Parable fo the Servant, Jesus said, “Who then is the faithful servant who is entrusted with the household and he gives them their food in due season?” See yourselves as that servant, entrusted with provisions. See yourselves as the Church, entrusted with provision; and we are to feed the rest of the household of God, all of humanity, in fact, all of His creation. We are to feed them and give them because they have needs.
Sad also is the fact that we think that we can judge for ourselves who deserves food. We do not own; it was just entrusted to us, and we do not judge who deserves food and who does not, and division is really sad. We must understand that we are to be faithful servants, giving food to those who are in need because we have been entrusted.
We are not exclusive. We just happened to have been chosen first so that others can also know our God and meet the Desire of Nations. Reminiscent of our vision: know God, and our privilege to do so and to also make Him known. God said, “Shake, I will shake the nations.” Not so that there will be left a remnant exclusively our own, but to shake so that they will be stirred up to jealousy. Much like what God said of the Jews, “I will stir them up to jealousy, not to push them away, but to awaken them, to make them realize what they are missing. I am using the Gentiles to stimulate them to jealousy so that they would return to me.”
God’s favorite word is not “go away” but “come.” He says, “Come. I want to gather you. Gather all the nations to me. And I will show Myself to them as their desire.” Shaking is not so we can be proved and we can be all the more exclusive and elite. No, the good news is for all people. This good news is of great joy; it is for all people, not just the chosen few, but for all people. Gentiles are His nations. He is the King of all the earth. This is who our Desire of Nations is.
We are being encouraged to take courage. Be strong. Do not fear. Work. Just continue to work and be the faithful servants that He expects us to be. Work. “I am with you eventually, ultimately in its fullness. This house will be glorified and the latter glory will be greater than the former”. I am speaking not just for the Church at large. I am speaking for local communities, too, including our own. We would look for a former glory. This is fine because God moved in those times. God is continually with us, and our desire is for Him and He will satisfy our desire. His promise is that He will be with us. He will bless our provisions abundantly.
God has chosen to dwell with His people in Zion and we will be the joy of the earth, not because of ourselves but because God is present in us, the Desire of Nations. Stop looking for other sources. Just realize it is God who satisfies. He satisfies; He satisfies our desire. God made us this way because this is the way it is in the kingdom of our God.