Second Sunday of Advent
Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths (Mt 3:3)
“The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD, and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD” (Is 11: 2-3). These words remind us of our days in formation to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, don’t they? These verses of chapter 11 of Isaiah, which the Church selected as the First Reading for our Mass on the Second Sunday of Advent, Year A, serve as the foundation for the teaching of the sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit. Why do we hear this proclamation so often during Advent?
Just as we are doing during this Advent, the People of God in the Old Testament were waiting for the Anointed One of God, the Messiah/Christ. The question was: How could they recognize the Messiah? Because the Spirit of God would be with the Anointed One, Isaiah pointed out that the sevenfold gift (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord) would be fully with the Christ. So, these gifts become the seven marks or characteristics of the Messiah.
Through the second sacrament of initiation, you and I are “sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit” (see the Introduction of Order of Confirmation no. 9). Just as in the Messiah the fullness of God’s spirit resides for the salvation of humanity, initiated Christians are equipped with the sevenfold gift to bring about the “fruit of the spirit.” According to St. Paul, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22-23). No wonder during this Advent, we are asked to listen to chapter 11 of Isaiah so often: the Church reminds us that we are equipped with the sevenfold gift and thus now produce the ninefold fruit of the Holy Spirit to prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his path” (Mt 3:3)!
“According to custom, the Christmas tree is set up just before Christmas and may remain in place until the solemnity of Epiphany” (Book of Blessings, 1571). We also decorate the tree in our homes and churches with the ornaments. These outward actions should remind us of an inward preparation of our hearts and our souls. Let us set up a tree in our interior home with all the fruit of the Holy Spirit. This is the utmost welcoming gesture for the Lord.
Following this trend of thought, please pay attention to what John the Baptist said to the Pharisees and Sadducees who came to his baptism. Knowing that they were not sincere, the Baptist addressed them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance” (Mt 3:7-8). We can paraphrase what the Baptist said as an invitation for us Christian people during Advent: Equip with the sevenfold gift and now produce the ninefold fruit as a sign of our repentance and preparation for the Lord! Maranatha, come Lord Jesus!