Prepare the Way for the Prince of Peace

Second Sunday of Advent, Year A, St. Ephraim’s Parish, Jikwoyi, Abuja. Homily by Archbishop I. A. Kaigama, 4th December, 2022

Readings: Is. 11:1-10; Ps. 71 (72): 1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17; Rom. 15:4-9; Matt. 3:1-12

Prepare the Way for the Prince of Peace

In the story of creation as recounted in Genesis, we read that God created the universe and all things were in perfect harmony. However, the fall of man led to disharmony, and the peace and tranquility that was enjoyed was destroyed. Pain, suffering, violence, murder, torture, etc, entered the scene.

In today’s first reading prophet Isaiah saw a vision of a new Davidic King whose coming would mark the end of all strife and inaugurate an era of peace. The prophet Isaiah speaks about Jesus as ‘the Prince of Peace’ (Is. 9:6) and gives us a glimpse of a tranquil society which could be likened to a paradise. He assured the people that the Lord would establish in the world that peace that once reigned in the Garden of Eden before the fall. The prophet looked forward to a time when: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox….” (Is. 11:6-9).

Sin destroys our relationship with God, our neighbours and all created things. Deliberately trying to exclude God from our lives and from the society is the cause of discord, disunity, disharmony, war, terror, hatred, hostility, anger, injustice, inequality and oppression especially of the poor. With Christ the Prince of Peace we enjoy the inner peace and joy of heart that comes from being with God; the peace that no man or woman could possibly give, the peace that could not be derived from wealth, prestige or worldly powers.

In the second reading, St. Paul encourages us to remain steadfast in good works, and to continue to improve in it until “the Day of the Lord.” For us to welcome Christ, and share in the joy that He brings, we must be ready to make some sacrifices; preparing and purifying ourselves through prayer, charity and reconciliation. Hence, as St. Paul puts it, this will help us to become “pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (Phil. 1:10). St. Paul would also seem to be saying to us, ‘Nigerians, please accept one another and live peacefully; beyond ethnic, religious, economic, social or political inclinations’ for a better, more prosperous and progressive nation.
In the gospel reading today, St. Matthew narrates the world’s political and historical situation at the birth of the Messiah, a time of great instability and John the Baptist appeared in garments of coarse camel hair and leather belt and ate wild honey and locust, to prepare the way for the Messiah (cf. Mal. 4:5) by preaching the message of repentance and calling people to prepare the way of the Lord.

Repentance is a careful decision made by a Christian to shun sin and its occasions, to make a u-turn to God. 1 John 1:8 says that if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. According to St. Paul, we all are sinners running short of God’s glory (cf. Rom. 3:23). Thus, preparing the way for the coming of Christ this Christmas entails bearing the fruits of repentance. The Pharisees and Sadducees who came to John the Baptist were rather reproved by John, in sharp contrast to preachers today providing and shielding powerful or wealthy or corrupt Nigerians based on their monetary or material contributions to their religious bodies. John himself would not have had great impact on the multitudes if his life had not preached more eloquently than his words. His life of humility, sacrifice, detachment, honesty and dedication spurred the people to conversion – a lesson for our leaders and those aspiring to lead.

His preaching today reminds us also of our important task of announcing Christ to others through our lives at home, at work, and in the community. Our life should be a kind of Bible which others can read. We are challenged to see this Advent as another opportunity to prepare the way and straighten the paths for Jesus who is coming soon; to grow deeper in the knowledge of the Lord and stronger in our solidarity of love with one another. We are urged to take a deeper look at our lives, and to denounce our sinful ways. Our domestic, social and political lives must be reordered.

We must abandon selfish tendencies and bigotry to embrace others as brothers and sisters. By mending broken relationships, taking up our individual or family responsibilities, being honest in our dealings, treating people justly and with respect, forgiving those who offended us, etc., we are truly making a way for the Lord to come into our lives.

As you journey through the holy season of Advent, may God bless your Parish Priest, Fr. Samuel Dim, the 125 candidates for confirmation and indeed all the parishioners of St. Ephraim’s Parish, Jikwoyi, and unite you in His peace. Amen.

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