THEME: RECEIVING THE PRINCE OF PEACE
READINGS: Isaiah 11:1-10 / Romans 15:4-9 / Matthew 3:1-12
2nd Sunday of Advent
Several centuries before the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ, a prophecy of Isaiah revealed some of His names: ‘Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6). This homily focuses on the last of these names: ‘Prince of Peace’.
What kind of peace, then, does the Saviour bring us? He brings us the serenity or harmony that is based on true justice and charity. Once again, the Prophet Isaiah, according to today’s first reading, gives us a vivid picture of this kind of peace:
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.The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.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 (Isaiah 11:6-9).
If the picture of the wolf and lamb, the leopard and young goat, the lion and calf, the bear and cow, the cobra and child living in peace is not vivid enough for you, then you may think of a cat and a mouse living in harmony. Beloved, this was the kind of peace that existed in the Garden of Eden before the fall of Adam and Eve; for in Eden, none of the animals attacked others despite their proximity.
Furthermore, whereas, after the fall of Adam and Eve, the serpent and child became enemies, in the peace that Christ restores, ‘the nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den’.
No wonder, at the birth of Christ, the angels would confirm that He is the Prince of Peace. Thus, they sang to the hearing of the shepherds: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased’ (Luke 2:14).
The peace of Christ is, however, an offer. That is, it is up to each of us to accept or reject it. For instance, whereas the said shepherds accepted the message of peace, King Herod and his associates preferred hatred and went ahead to kill probably thousands of innocent children.
Beloved, what is our choice? Are we, like the shepherds accepting the peace of Christ, or like King Herod rejecting it?
Beloved, let us be like the shepherds and accept the peace of Christ. This is exactly what St. Paul is urging us to do, according to the second reading: ‘live in …harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus…. Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God’ (Rom. 15:5-7).
Now, brothers and sisters, our celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace will be a contradiction or meaningless, if we do not strive to live in peace with others. Beloved, like the child and cobra living in peace, so should parents and children live in harmony; like the bear and cow living in peace, so should husband and wife live in peace; like the leopard and young goat living in harmony, so should siblings live in peace; like the lion and calf living in harmony, so should a boss and the subordinates or co-workers live in peace; like the wolf and lamb living in peace, so should people of different political parties live in harmony; and, let me add, like the cat and mouse living in harmony, so should the police/military and citizens live in peace.
Probably, you are still adamant about forgiving and living in peace with whoever has offended you. In that case, please listen to St. John the Baptist who, according to today’s gospel reading, calls us to repent (cf. Matt. 3:1-12). To repent is to have a change of both mind and heart. Let us, therefore, change our mind and heart about those who have offended us. Finally, then, like the wolf and lamb, the leopard and young goat, the calf and lion, the cow and bear, the child and cobra living in peace, so let us forgive one another and be mutually reconciled. For this is a way of getting used to the peace of heaven, where even former enemies will become friends forever. Amen!
By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis