daily biblical sermons

Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Monday, 1st Week of Advent, November 29, 2010
Isa. 4:2-6, Ps. 121, Matt. 8:5-11

"In that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and glory of the survivors of Israel" (Isa. 4:2).

Isaiah prophesies a beautiful future for Israel. Yet we hear this oracle in the midst of his description of the Judah and Jerusalem of his day as a time of apostasy and decadence. "The ox knows its owner, and the ass its master's crib; but Israel does not know, my people does not understand" (Isa. 1:3). To Israel, he says, "Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! ... Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good" (Isa. 1:10, 16-17). But the future will be different. Not all will be saved. Only a remnant will remain faithful. Isaiah puts his hope in this poor and faithful remnant, which God will bless in the future. God will send them a righteous branch, and in those days he "shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and glory of the survivors of Israel" (Isa. 4:2).

True Christians are this remnant, and Jesus Christ is the branch of the Lord, who is beautiful and glorious and fills the earth with fruit, which is their pride and glory. It is our vocation to be this remnant in the midst of those who have gone astray and lost their way. It is now as it was in the days of Isaiah. Many who bear the name "Christian" have been carried away by worldly desires and live more for the pleasures of the body and of the flesh than for God. They have divided their hearts, trying to serve two masters-God and mammon-which is impossible (Matt. 6:24). Their salt has lost its taste, and they no longer have a message worth preaching. Their faith has been secularized. But we are called to be a faithful remnant of the Lord in the midst of this apostasy, witnesses of Jesus Christ in the midst of a perverse and malignant generation, lights in the darkness of this world (Phil. 2:15).

The remnant of Israel was the anawim, the poor of the Lord, the humble and simple who live only for God, having lost and renounced everything else of this world. It is these same poor of the Lord who do not divide themselves and their hearts with the entertainments, delights, and pleasures of this world who are the remnant of the Lord today. These are the ones who rejoice in the branch of the Lord. For them, he is beauty and glory, greatness and honor.

We are called to be this faithful remnant, left in the world as leaven to raise the rest, to evangelize and convert all we can reach by the example of our very different way of life and by the powerful message of our preaching of salvation in Jesus Christ. Christ bore our sins and suffered their just punishment for us, freeing us to be sons of God and live in happiness. We live like this, giving the witness of our new way of living and of our faith for the salvation and transformation of the world from its worldliness into the kingdom of God. We want to be prepared now and to prepare the world for Christ's second coming in glory. Therefore we live this new life and preach this word to all we can reach.

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