The readings for the Second Sunday of Advent all speak about expectations.
Isaiah’s description of the ideal king or Messiah informs us of what he is expecting. The prophet describes the attributes that any king, any “Messiah,” would need: wisdom and understanding to enable the king to rule in competence and insight, counsel and strength necessary for the administration of justice whether this is executed judicially through the courts or on the battlefield, and knowledge and fear of the Lord which dispose the ruler to humble reverence toward God, ensuring that the reign of the King is faithful to God’s will.
Psalm 72 is used as a response to Isaiah’s expectations and iterate much of the same.
The Gospel presents us with John the Baptist’s preaching in which he tells the people what to expect of the Messiah. Interestingly enough, next week we will hear a subsequent text about John in which he sends his disciples to question Jesus about whether he is the expected one. The question is asked because Jesus is not quite what John had expected. Instead of winnowing the chaff from the wheat, Jesus sat with and ate with sinners. Instead of a mighty king whose sandals John was not worthy to unfasten, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.
Finally, St. Paul tells us what he expects of those who profess faith in Jesus; namely, that we will welcome one another and that our relationship will be harmonious.
As I pondered the readings this morning, I asked myself, “What am I expecting?” Indeed, the question is worth asking of all of us. Just what kind of Messiah are we expecting? As we dwell on thoughts of Jesus’ return, just what are we expecting? I have to admit that I am fairly well convinced that if Jesus appeared as a baby in a stable some 2,000 years ago, I would be willing to bet that his coming the next time will be just as humble, just as unexpected, just as mysterious.
God likes to surprise us.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator