04 December 2010

THE GLORY OF GOD RETURNING

2nd Sunday of Advent
Mt 3:1-12

In the Old Testament, the glory of God is said to have departed from His People when His voice can no longer be heard. God is silent precisely because His glory is gone. In 1 Sam 4:21-22, we read, for example, that when Eli died, his daughter-in-law, Phinehas by name, gave birth to a son whom she named “Ichabod”. The word “Ichabod” literally means “no glory” in Hebrew. Phinehas named her son “Ichabod” because the glory of God left Israel. Even before the Ark of the Covenant was stolen by the Philistines from the Isrealites, 1 Sam 3:1 says that the glory of God was already departing from Israel: “In those days, the word of God was rarely heard; visions were very few.” Notice: first, God was quiet (1 Sam 3:1); then, He was completely gone (1 Sam 4:21-22). Thereupon, the glory of God disappeared from His People.

The silence of God was not only deafening; it also lasted for many, many years. But the Prophet Ezekiel prophesied about the return of the Ark of the Covenant to the Temple in Jerusalem. As the Ark of the Covenant goes home, the Prophet said, so would the glory of God return to the house of Israel (Cf Ez 43:4-9). This great prophecy started to come true with the appearance of John the Baptist who prepared the way for Jesus who is God’s glory Himself in our midst. Indeed, with John the Baptist – the voice crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way for the Lord, make His paths straight” – God broke His prolonged silence. The glory of God is returning. God Himself comes to pitch His tent among us. Becoming one like us in all things except sin, God became flesh in the person of Jesus the Christ.

Because Matthew wrote for the Jews who converted to Christianity, he saw the need to begin his gospel with the story of John the Baptist who is the last and the greatest of all prophets. In this way, Matthew strove to make the Jewish Christians understand that Jesus is the glory of God returning to His People. Thus, in his entire gospel, Matthew showed that the prophecies about the promised Messiah were all fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. In the very person of Jesus, the glory of God has reached the climax of its revelation.

The voice in the wilderness, John the Baptist himself, broke the prolonged silence of God. That same voice signaled the glory of God returning to His People. Hence, that same voice called everyone to repent from their sins. That same voice addresses itself to us today, too.

We are the new Israel. We are God’s household in the New Testament. We are God’s People, called out of darkness unto His marvelous light. The glory of God, however, has never left us since it appeared in our midst in the person of Jesus. But we ourselves depart from God’s glory when we live in the darkness of sin. And we depart from it more than once, more than twice, indeed, several times, every now and then, because we sin every so often. Thus, the perennial call for us to repent from our sins, convert our hearts and minds to God, and amend our ways.

Because of our sins, we are actually living in the wilderness where there is no life. The good news, however, is that even in the wilderness a voice cries, pointing to us the way out of the wasteland of sinful living. Of this truth, St. Paul wrote in Rom 5:20, “Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more”. This is an essential part of our Advent hope: we repent from our sins because we believe that no matter how sinful we have been we have a sure hope in the forgiveness that God offers us through Jesus, His Son. So, repent, not because the glory of God is returning, but because the glory of God is already upon us.

1 Comments:

At 9:42 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nowadays, sin is the greatest enemy of one’s humanity. It destroys our soul as well as others, which lead towards death and get separated from God. What is our choice? Do we want to give our life to Satan, whose greatest priority is to destroy us? Or to obey and live with Jesus, Whose Divine Love for us is eternal? If we desire to love Jesus, then we must NOT entertain sin in our daily life. It is a greatest battle within us. Let us earnestly pray to be free from sin and throw away any ‘garbage’ in our life.

 

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