St. Matthew's Episcopal

The Second Sunday in Advent 2016

Posted on: December 5th, 2016 by Robin Jarrell


For the second Sunday in Advent, I continue my practice of summarizing the sermon because in these turbulent times, it is important to keep the Good News ever before us.

Isaiah’s words about the coming Messiah – the “shoot from the stump of Jesse

[who] 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” – are very strange indeed.  The Gospel is full of Jesus’ admonition for “anyone with ears to hear” and for those who are blind to see. What are we to make of a Messiah who seemingly does not use his human faculties in true discernment?

I say to all of you often enough that (here’s the Baptismal Covenant again), we are called to “seek and serve Christ in all persons,” or, to put it another way, to see the face of Christ in everyone.  But a deeper meaning of Isaiah’s words may have to do with seeing the world the way Christ sees US.  I have always fancied the notion that Jesus loves me.  That idea probably started with the children’s song we’ve all sung:  Jesus loves me, this I know.  I’m very fond of the fact that Jesus loves me.  Me.  Who messes up, has faults, gets things wrong, hides from God.  But what if I could see the world with the eyes of Jesus.  What if all I know about Jesus’ love for me, I knew about Jesus’ love for YOU (and everyone else) with perfect and dazzling clarity?  Isaiah’s words about the coming Messiah no longer seem strange, but now seem more real.

And since Advent is a mystical time of waiting for what will be with what is to come, the words of John the Baptizer echo the prophet Isaiah to prepare The Way.  For John, the waiting of Advent becomes the admonition to “bear fruit worthy of repentance.”  So, in Matthew’s Gospel, John calls out the religious leaders of the day.  And, while history may not always repeat itself, it so often rhymes.  That means that John’s words reverberate through the years and through the great cloud of witnesses to help us know what Christ Jesus is calling all of us to do.  For my part, as an ordained Christian priest, I will continue to preach the gracious news of Christ to any Christian and especially to any Christian leader who would so misuse Holy Scripture as a cudgel or wield their faith as a weapon in order to divide, demean, oppress, or diminish our sacred mandate to love one another.

The eyes of Christ are meant for seeing the least of these.  Pray God, this advent, we learn to see everyone through the eyes of Jesus.

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