“Joyful in Hope”

 

December 6, 2020

Second Sunday of Advent,

Isaiah 40:1-11

Psalm 85:7-13

2 Peter 3:8-15

Mark 1:1-8

 

Bishop Ariel P. Santos

 

 

God speaks to us throughout the whole liturgy.  In the homily, God speaks through His earthen vessel, who is not an infallible wizard.  Look not at the weakness of the instrument but the ability of God in him, therefore listen.

 

This is the Second Sunday of Advent and we cry out and we proclaim the message of Advent: hope, anticipation, and preparation for the coming of our King.  This is the good news. St. Mark’s gospel begins with a royal proclamation of good news to the people that victory is ours through our King.

 

Titus 2:11-13 says, "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people. It trains us to reject ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope, that is, the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ."  Our blessed hope is the glorious appearing of Jesus.  Appearing is Parousia, which is the great coming of our Lord.  We don’t have to escape the hardships and the trials of this world because He is coming and He will right the wrong. God is a just God and righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.   

 

The good news of hope is that Christ is coming to stay with us. Christ is not coming as if He is far away, but He is emerging from a heavenly dimension. Yahweh is near and we don't see Him physically, but it doesn’t mean that He is not with us.  At the appearing of the Lord, the veil will be pulled back and we will see Him and we will know Him.

 

The question is: why will Jesus appear? Jesus will appear to proclaim the rightful kingdom, and when He comes, He will tailor it to His liking, to His personality. If He is a just God, injustice cannot be present in His kingdom. He will set things right.  Jesus will not come to destroy but to give life as He always does.  He will do this because He doesn’t change.  Jesus said that the thief comes to steal, to kill and to destroy. Jesus came to bring life and He will destroy what destroys life that He intends for His creation.  He will destroy that which destroys His good creation.  The bad will be taken out and the destructive will be destroyed and everything will be replaced and be made new. God is making all things new.  This is the restoration of all things, as St. Peter says.  

 

The destructive sin wreaked havoc, and caused a disastrous disruption of God's good creation and life. In 2Peter, he says that the destructive elements of the world system will be burned up, and Jesus will restore all things and make them new.  Because our God is the God of the living, He will destroy death.  He will retain everything pertaining to life and godliness.  He will destroy death, restore life and then, we will have resurrected bodies which will no longer be subject to death.  We look for the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come.  We will then stand in immortal, imperishable resurrected body.  This is our hope.  This is what we look forward to, but it is not yet here.   

 

In Romans 8:18, St. Paul says, “I consider that our present sufferings, the imperfections that we go through right now are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed to us.” What we are going through in our personal life, career, family, community or in the Church may frustrate or depress us because we can’t stand it anymore. We don’t yet see the desirable, the ideal, but St. Paul encourages us, “Don’t give up because what awaits us is so great that it is nothing compared to what we are going through now.”  The whole creation was subjected to futility and anxiously longs to be set free and it is unjust.  

 

Our hope is that the present situation is nothing to be compared to the glory that will be revealed. We eagerly wait for adoption as sons and the redemption of our body. It is the ushering in of the new creation. Philippians 3:20-21 says, "We eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body."  What we hope for, we do not yet see, therefore, with perseverance, we wait for that which we don’t see yet.  Romans 8:28, “For we know that God causes all things to work together for good.”   We don’t see it but we know that faith is the substance of things we hope for and the evidence of things not yet seen.  It is not hope if we see it.   What do we know or how do we know? This is because we have proven God many times!  We know that He who promised is faithful.  Don’t give up hope!  What we know is that God causes all things to work together for good even if it is not the ideal or it is something that we couldn’t solve. God is working even now.  Things are not stagnant and He is touching the hearts of the people.

 

St. Paul says that we are predestined to be conformed to the likeness of the Son, so He will be the firstborn of dead.  We will live full lives of righteousness and of justice, and there will be no sin nor death to disrupt the good plan of God for His creation.  Romans 8:31 says that if God is for us, who can be against us?  This is our hope!

 

So no one told us life was going to be this way; so the devil throws everything but the kitchen sink at you.  However, nothing can separate us from the love of God and we know this.  It is our choice: we can wallow in despair and negativity or fulfill our calling to be more than conquerors and offer hope to world.  Isaiah says, “Comfort my people and tell them the good news so that they, too, can comfort others.”   Be a word of hope to the nations.  When there is despair in life, let us bring hope.  We need to have this hope ourselves first before we can take this to the world.

 

2 Peter 3 says, “Know that some will mock us (people or thoughts) and they will ask, ‘Where is the promise of God?’ They forgot God cleansed the earth with water and got rid of evil and He will purify it again with fire. He is patient not willing anything to perish and He is not slow about His promise like others think.  Therefore, if we know this, what sort of conduct are we ought to have in anticipation of the new heavens and the new earth where we will live and where only righteousness dwells?"

 

Peter 3:14 says, “Since you have this hope, be diligent to live in peace and godliness.”  This is how we prepare.  Romans 8 encourages us to wait with (godly) perseverance - not idly but participate now! In Titus 2:11, St. Paul says, “Salvation is rejecting ungodliness and living righteously in the present age as we wait in joyful hope for the appearing of Jesus Christ.

 

We live in righteousness now so that it will carried over and will continue and we will smoothly segue into the life of the world to come when Jesus appears. He ushers in the new creation.  This is how we prepare the way of the Lord, and this is the way it is in the kingdom of our God.

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