Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Second Sunday of AdventA

Second Sunday of AdventA

Readings: Isa 11:1-10; Rom 15:4-9; Mt 3:1-12.

1/ Reading I: RSV Isaiah 11:1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. 2 And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. 3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; 4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. 5 Righteousness shall be the girdle of his waist, and faithfulness the girdle of his loins. 6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. 7 The cow and the bear shall feed; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 The sucking child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den. 9 They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountains; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. 10 In that day the root of Jesse shall stand as an ensign to the peoples; him shall the nations seek, and his dwellings shall be glorious.

2/ Reading II: RSV Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. 8 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, "Therefore I will praise thee among the Gentiles, and sing to thy name."

3/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." 4 Now John wore a garment of camel's hair, and a leather girdle around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea and all the regions about the Jordan, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit that befits repentance, 9 and do not presume to say to yourselves, `We have Abraham as our father'; for I tell you, God is able to raise up from these stones children to Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 "I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."


I. THEME: The Messiah is the source of people’s happiness.

 

            People in every generation desire to know the truth, to unite with each other and to have peace; but they are surrounded by lies, wars, separation and death. People should not be discouraged and losing hope because God promised with them from the beginning that He shall give them the Messiah who is the source of all happiness. He has all the gifts to help people to fight against sins and to grow in holiness. Moreover, he shall fight with them and govern them in love and peace.

            Today readings concentrate on the gifts which the Messiah shall bring for humankind. In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah foretold about the Messiah’s earthly origin. He shall be equipped with the Holy Spirit’s gifts to judge and to govern people in justice and love. He shall restore for people the original justice which they lost through the original sin. In the second reading, St. Paul said the Messiah shall wipe out all differences and separation so people could live with each other in unity and peace. In the Gospel, John Baptist spent all his time to prepare for people to receive the Messiah. According to him, the condition to receive the Messiah is the sincerely contrite. He also said that the Messiah shall baptize people with the Holy Spirit and fire to take away sins and to sanctify them.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: “The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”

1.1/ God promised to give humankind the Messiah: To understand the Isaiah’s prophecy, one needs to understand the historical circumstance of his life. The Judah’s kingdom gradually declined because the kings turned their back to God and chased after foreign gods and treated people maliciously. As a result, their kingdom was completely destroyed by the year of 587 B.C. by the Babylon king; the Judah’s king, his officers and many people were on exile to Babylon. It seemed to be the end of the kingship according to Davidic lineage. It is in this historical background that the prophet Isaiah lighted up the hope for the house of Judah and the people. There are three things which God promises to people in today passage.

            (1) Judah shall not lose the crown: God promised to David that his descendants shall continue to govern Israel forever; but when their country was lost and all people lived on exile, how could that promise be fulfilled in such situation? But God said through the prophet Isaiah, “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” A shoot from Jesse’ stump, David’s father, is Christ, the Messiah. He belongs to David’s lineage; and he shall rule not only Judah, but also all people of the world forever.

            (2) The Messiah’s characters: Though is born like a man; but he has God’s power, because “the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and piety. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.” The MT has “the fear of the Lord” twice; while the LXX and Vulgate have “piety” in place of one “fear of the Lord.” The Messiah is anointed with the Holy Spirit’s seven gifts and gives them to his people through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.

            (3) The Messiah shall judge people in righteousness and faithfulness: To judge right and to be faithful are two important characters of a good king. The Messiah has these two important virtues, according to Isaiah, “Righteousness shall be the girdle of his waist, and faithfulness the girdle of his loins.” Since he can understand what are inside human beings, so, “He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.”

1.2/ All people shall enjoy peace: From the time when Adam and Eve committed their sins in the Garden, people become alienated from God, others and His creatures. The Isaiah’s prophecy wants to say that when the Messiah comes, he shall bring people back to the original justice which they had when they didn’t commit their sins yet. At that time, all animals lived with and obeyed people. The prophet described this original state as followings, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall feed; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The sucking child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den.”

            When people understand all God’s truth, they shall no longer pursue wars; then Zion and all places shall enjoy peace, as the prophet said, “They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountains; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” This prophecy isn’t limited for the Jews but also is extended to all nations. All of them shall come and learn the truth of God according to Isaiah’s words, "In that day the root of Jesse shall stand as an ensign to the peoples; him shall the nations seek, and his dwellings shall be glorious."

2/ Reading II: Christ is the source of unity.

           

2.1/ The Scriptures were written to educate people: The danger of separation is always present with people at all times and in all generations due to different thinking, material gain, power thirsting, and individual or national pride. The history of humankind and the Church are living examples of the separation. To prevent and to heal it, St. Paul advised his faithful to read the scriptures, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.”

            First of all, the scriptures provide us to have hope in God because He is the Lord of the heaven and earth and controls everything; no one can harm us if we live according to the truth and hold firm to our faith, whoever does it, he shall have to pay a dearly price. Secondly, the scriptures help us to overcome all sufferings because we know sufferings are needed to practice virtues. In other words, sufferings can’t be lacked in our life because they help us to show our faith and love for God. Finally, the scriptures always console us in all trials and sufferings, because they remind us of God’s presence in our life. Therefore, St. Paul prayed for his faithful, "May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."  

2.2/ People must receive each other as Christ received them: There exists a deep enmity between the Jews and the Gentiles. Many Jews don’t think the Gentiles can be saved by God. The Gentiles hate the Jews for their exclusive thinking; many Gentiles condemned the Jews for their murder of Christ. St. Paul explained for both of them to understand that they are saved completely by believing in Christ, not by their worthy or merit. He said:

            (1) To the Jews: Christ came to serve them because God is faithful to the promise with their forefathers.

            (2) To the Gentiles: Christ came to call the Gentiles because of God’s love for them. And St. Paul concluded, “Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”

 

3/ Gospel: People must be prepared in order to receive the Messiah.

            Not everyone can receive the Messiah. Whoever wants to receive him, they must repent from their sins and make straight their way, as John Baptist demanded, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand...  Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight."”

           

3.1/ People are saved by their sincere faith, not only in name.

            Matthew reported that many people, from Jerusalem and all Judea and all the regions about the Jordan came to John Baptist. They confessed their sins and were baptized by him in the river Jordan.

            (1) Faith is known by outside deeds: When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit that befits repentance.” Whoever prepares himself only by outside ceremony and doesn’t repent from his sins, shall not receive the Messiah because he can see through his mind and heart and he is holy.

            (2) Name shall not help people to receive salvation: Many Jews misunderstood that they can be saved at all cost because they are Abraham’s descendants. John Baptist forceful rejected this belief and said, “Do not presume to say to yourselves, `We have Abraham as our father'; for I tell you, God is able to raise up from these stones children to Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Similar thing shall happen to the faithful who think they can be saved without a sincere repentance and living a good life.

3.2/ The Messiah shall baptize people in spirit and fire.

            John Baptist made a differentiation between the two baptisms: by water and by the Holy Spirit and fire:

            (1) His baptism in water to show people’s repentance of sins.

            (2) Jesus’ baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire to take away people’s sins and to sanctify them with the Holy Spirit’s gifts.

            - Baptism in the Holy Spirit: Though the Jewish tradition had no clear explanation about the Holy Spirit as the third person of the Trinity as the Catholic tradition, but they had some conception about the spirit. In Jewish language, there is only one noun, ruah, for spirit, wind and breath. For examples, wind is the symbol of strength or power. When God’s spirit descends upon men, they can do things which a normal person can’t do. Breath is the symbol of life; when God breathes into Adam’s nostril, he becomes a living man; when God withdraws his breath, he shall be died. When people are baptized in the Holy Spirit, they shall receive the Holy Spirit’s seven gifts as described in the first reading. The Holy Spirit shall sanctify the believers and help them to recognize the truth from all falsities and to revere God.

            - Baptism in fire: Matthew may use another way to explain the Holy Spirit’s presence by using the symbol of fire. There are three main uses of fire: First of all, fire is used to shine as the Holy Spirit enlightens people to recognize the truth. Secondly, fire is used to warm up as the Holy Spirit warms up people with God’s love. Lastly, fire is used to purify all dirties from a metal, as also described in today passage, “His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - We are thirsting for the Messiah’s coming and remaining in our soul because he shall wipe out all our fear, falsities and separation. He shall wipe out all of our sins and sanctify us by the Holy Spirit’s seven gifts.

            - In order to receive the Messiah, we need to truly repent and to confess all of our sins. Only sincere people can receive him. Let prepare our souls and ask him to come and to remain with us forever.

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