這篇默想是以 Foundations in Faith – Catechist Catechumenate Manual 為根據，並獲得版權持有人 RCL Benziger, LLC 批准使用。
On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. 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. Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, but he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land's afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips. Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them. The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like the ox. The baby shall play by the cobra's den, and the child lay his hand on the adder's lair. There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea. On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.
Brothers and sisters:
Whatever was written previously was written for our instruction, that by endurance and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus, that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I say that Christ became a minister of the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, to confirm the promises to the patriarchs, but so that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written: Therefore, I will praise you among the Gentiles and sing praises to your name.
John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said: A voice of one crying out in the desert, Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. John wore clothing made of camel's hair and had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. At that time Jerusalem, all Judea, and the whole region around the Jordan were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins.
When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones. Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
In today's Scripture of the coming of the Messianic King, the prophet Isaiah gives us a vision of justice and peace that will embrace not only Israel but the whole humanity. This eschatological passage ends on a note of universality with its promise extended to all creation. God's Word, inspiring all who hear it, will ultimately bring its own fulfillment. The psalm implores justice and peace from God with the reign of His chosen king who will attend to the poor and the needy. John the Baptist's first appearance in the Gospel of Matthew is a herald of the Messiah but he is also the last prophet of the Old Testament. He proclaims the coming of a new age in which no inherited privilege or external legal observance is sufficient for entering the kingdom of God. True repentance and conversion is demanded.
With the coming of Christ, the messianic era has begun. The promise God made at the time of Isaiah is brought to fulfillment. This messianic era, known as God's kingdom, will be brought to completion at the end of the world when Christ has dominion over everything. The sign of the messianic era is justice and peace. Justice is the right relationship between and among God's people and indeed all creation, with particular care for the poor and weak. Peace, more than the absence of war, is the total well-being grounded in friendship with God. The Catholic Church teaches that by putting on Christ, and living as Jesus would live, believers hasten the full advent of the kingdom of God (CCC 2046).
How do we model Christ's way of living? As an old Chinese saying goes, "When one's personal life is cultivated, one's family will be regulated and then one's state will be well governed; and when all the states are well governed, there will be peace and harmony throughout the world" (source). To "cultivating our personal lives", we must first examine ourselves. Admitting our faults with a contrite heart is the first step to reconcile ourselves with God and others. This "true conversion" which will bring interior peace is what John the Baptist was preaching.
The season of Advent is the time for recollection and reflection of our personal relationship with God. Our Lord Jesus Christ has given us the best Christmas gift: the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We should make use of this great gift.
This material is adapted from the Foundations in Faith – Catechist Catechumenate Manual with the permission of the copyright holder, RCL Benziger, LLC.