SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT – B
There is a voice deep within that speaks to us, guiding us to do the right thing and to avoid evil. This is our conscience. In the same manner, a prophet is like a conscience who speaks the voice of God to the people. Israel being the People of God had a long prophetic tradition in the Old Testament. The other religions have their oracles which the people consulted in all matters about life.
In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah was sent to the Israelites who were exiled in Babylon (587-530 BC). Jerusalem was far away and the Jews could not bear the terrible pain of being captives in a foreign land. God was silent! Suddenly in this desperate situation, Isaiah became God’s voice of hope for the Jews: their slavery had come to an end! They had to prepare for the coming of their Messiah.
In the second reading, the promised Second Coming of Jesus (Parousia) was long delayed. His disciples were in despair, thinking that Jesus might not be the Messiah, after all He had not come quickly as some had expected. The Second Letter of Peter was written to give them hope: God does not conform to human expectations and what they were awaiting was a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign.
For more than four hundred years, the Israelites had never heard nor seen a prophet. Then suddenly came John the Baptist: God’s voice of hope to a people who lived in the shadow of death, to a land as barren as the desert! His message was that of the prophet Isaiah’s: “Prepare, the Lord is coming! The long exile of sin had ended, a new spring time had come!" It was a refreshing message like rain drenching the parched land; like ice-cold water to a weary and lost pilgrim in the middle of a desert. So the Jews flocked to him like a superstar! But what did they see? A very simple man dressed in camel’s hair and fed on locusts and wild honey. Like the prophet Isaiah, he spoke with a message of hope! He was talking about the real Messiah who was about to come who would give them a new baptism and the Holy Spirit. He could have glorified himself from such popularity and adulation but he knew he was a mere messenger, only a voice of Someone greater than anyone else. He even declared that he was not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of His sandals.
The world of today needs prophets more than ever before! In this desperate time like the Babylonian captivity in the Old Testament and the slavery of the Jews by the Romans during the time of Jesus, we are hungry for prophets who can give us back the reason to hope! And what is to be a prophet in this present time? It is to be the voice of Jesus in a world that is desperately in need of salvation, of comfort and of hope! We are these prophets to one another, to our families, our children, our spouses, our friends, our officemates, and even to strangers.
The long wait is over! God continuously sends new Isaiahs and new John the Baptists: rainmakers to parched lands who cry out for the rain of justice; the voice of hope to those who have forgotten to sing other than their lamentations; a ray of light to those who dwell in the shadow of the culture of death. Speak gently the truth that breaks the many un-freedoms of our people; shatter the status quo that enslaves the poor, but most especially be the voice of God to someone who has already lost the will to live.
Speak up, prophets! Let us make a difference to someone’s life today!!!