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 (for He is The Lord’s Anointed!): a spirit of wisdom…understanding… counsel… ..strength…knowledge…and 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.
Psalm 72: Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out, and the afflicted when he has no one to help him. He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor; the lives of the poor he shall save. R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever. May his name be blessed forever;
John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” Prepare the way of the Lord.
Today’s Advent Theme is Judgment. We all will have to face a true judgment from God. This is all part of knowing a reality, that—either death comes for us or the Great Return of The Lord appears upon us, and then follows God’s particular judgment upon people, and then later, a general judgment. I preached last weekend on the theme of Death. This Sunday it is that fact of how we will have a true judgment from God coming to us one day. Yet there are many vying to dodge the Lord on this—but they won’t be able. It’s unavoidable. Therefore, it is a good thing to heed the Baptist’s message for Advent. Prepare the Way of the Lord. Prepare for Him as Judge.
If it is upon death that we face the Judgment of God, then it likely will be that our soul will head first to a personal judgment of things. This stage does concern just of what our own choices were made in life. What shall it be like to go through this? The near-death experiences of people often define a strong light that there are being drawn to—and their looking down at the body they are leaving. This Light could be described perhaps as to be the ever-penetrating True Light of God Who reveals everything and everyone squarely when we come close to Him.
If it is by the Second Coming that we face the Judgment of God, then some Scriptural descriptions tell us that before this Grand Day of Jesus’ Return, it will be preceded by unwanted and terrifying disturbances of the physical universe (Matt.24, 29; Luke 11, 25-26). The wars, pestilences, famines, and earthquakes foretold in Matt.24, 6 are also understood by some in The Holy Church as among the calamities of The Last Times. Another sign is of a great apostasy in the Church, when many fall away and leave her, and it is told that this happens before the Second Coming. It could involve martyrdom and a thinning out of the faithful, just like it happened in the Old Testament, and also when worldly powers have taken over much of the known places of the believers. Yet if you or I are living through it, in the apostolic writings we are told that the end of the world will be brought about through a general conflagration, which, however, will not annihilate the present creation, but will change its form and appearance. Bible references like 2 Pet.3, 10-13; Rev. 3,3 and 26, 15 and various 1st Thessalonians verses, describe this expected end. Natural science shows the possibility of such a catastrophe being produced in the ordinary course of events, but theologians generally incline to the belief that its origin will be entirely miraculous. As all this is whirling about, you will be brought before the Lord, and your body or ashes will be raised out of its tomb for the resurrection to glory or to destruction, but that will be dependent on your particular judgment.
The body’s resurrection ‘jump’ will happen at a sound of a trumpet call or trumpet-sounding voice calling out, as 1 Cor.15, 52; I Thess.4,15; and John, 5, 28 allude to it. In Matthew 24, 30, there also is a great sign immediately preceding the appearance of Christ to judge the world. By this sign the Fathers of the Church generally understand the appearance in the sky of The Cross on which the Savior died or else of a wonderful Cross of Light. If you see all of this, then get to your knees and be prepared to be utterly honest about everything in your life. The Kingdom everlasting will be at hand. Advent II will have finished out. The Glory of the Lord will have been revealeth—as Handel’s Messiah sings it out in December performances around the area.
If you had been a regular goer to Confession in your life, then the drama and shock of it (The trumpet call and the Second Coming) won’t be as greatly difficult to face. You’ll have practiced honest confessions to The Lord all along the way in life, and you may happily find how the Lord dealt with those fearful matters in that Sacrament, and cleansed you and put them all of that sin behind you. Wouldn’t that be nice?!
The people in life who were always so self-defensive versus God and His means in the world to call that into the Light and Truth and even to lawfulness and moral living—they’ll have a terrifying time being in Christ’ Presence of Glory all of its sudden. Those persons who face God, who were humans used to acting in boastful entitlement, utter selfishness, greed, cruel control, and deep disregard for others will get called out, rightfully, by the Just Judge Christ Jesus. They won’t be able to cry out: “Don’t be judgmental! You are offending me and my rights!” Not to God. These kinds of comments they made on earth usually were made by them when they had had their own sinful and/or selfish behavior pointed out or brought to light. They had been used to reacting in retaliation and rash action versus their so called “judge” –but God will be saying: All during your life I sent people to you to try to free you from your wicked self, but your resisted and fought it hard. Now the consequences come by that prideful attitude of yours. “Who am I to judge you?! I AM THE TRUTH. (John 14:6).
In the final say, we can admit now, before it happens ahead, that surely God has been revealing to us, to our conscience and will and heart, of how He has always been observing everything about us. We knew it. We might have denied this thought, but it was planted in us. We knew that God sees all our actions being done, whether personally or communally. If we had tried to dodge it, then God has acted to drop more than hundreds or thousands of hints to our thoughts of how we would be called to account for our lives, because God is real and is all-knowing. God sees all our thoughts and intentions. He will judge all. From the words of a Santa song re-done, “you better watch out, you better not just cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why: Jesus Christ is coming to—“you and me, all of us. He sees us when we sleeping…awake…knows if we’ve been bad or good…”
Advent announces it loudly: The Judgment of God is to come upon us, first in a particular judgment, and then in a general judgment. We are already each under the gaze of God, and He is seeing us for who we really are, and whether we really care for ourselves and for our neighbors, or if we are rather much selfish inside.
As we heard in the Isaiah 11 Word today, God has availed to those who follow Him, the Anointed One Who brings help by His Spirit, with wisdom (we need that), understanding (yes, we need that, too), counsel (ditto), strength to our character (ditto), knowledge (ditto) and a proper God-abiding spirit of reverence and respect (ditto again). We need all this assistance. It is there for us. We teach this concept to every Confirmation Class of these (and other)“Gifts of the Spirit.” God means to keep helping us along the way in our lives, long before His Judgment comes of it. God hopes to have us to keep growing in our Faith. We’ll do so in the face of a culture that does not seem to want any such Holy Help or of what is true and godly or virtuous. Sometimes we hear: “Get your God and religion out of my business. And don’t judge me. I will live as I want! And your ways just offend me!” Uugghh!
Yet this God is coming and His court will be high and most true—with all the facts gathered and circumstances greatly examined. It will be a court and judgment so vastly different than some of what goes on down here in our bickering, fighting humanity—even with our courts and judges trying to decide matters. Hear Isaiah describe God’s standard versus our own: “Not by appearance shall He judge, nor by hearsay shall He decide..” Amen to that! I observe crooked courts around us as judging by surface opinions and bias and personal vendetta… and trying to decide matters by hearsay, or by pre-decided conclusions! That is not a good court proceeding! Isaiah goes on: “But He shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted…” My comment: That’s good that The Lord promises to be a judge for the weak and the sick and the poor, for they often have not been served well much on earth! Amen! Isaiah also shows that God’s court means business, as it adds today in Isaiah 11: “He, as Judge, shall strike the ruthless with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. For Justice shall be the band around his waist, and Faithfulness a belt upon His hips.” Woah. The Court will be in session!! Heaven and Hell will be the two doors from that courtroom. God shall exact quick sentencing. Amen!
But Who is He to judge?! HE IS THE LORD! That’s Who!
He has come to our world, and the Bible records His work has gone on for millennia to assist us to what is right and noble and true. In Christ Jesus, about 2019 years ago, He came personally to the earth to lay down His teachings and His expectations and left us a just and faithful and true example in Himself. God’s offer is Mercy first, as well, not just hard demanding truth. He gives people a very decent offer to be in His favor, long before His courtroom. Mercy, then Justice.
The teaching of Christ and His Church is that God’s judgment is coming, and for it we must be prepared. That is a clear Advent theme. We can help one another to come under the Light of God, so that, in the finality of things, we shall have dealt with matters pertaining to God’s standard of good. The second of God’s judgments is called the general Judgment, which is how everyone and everything worked together for the good and evil, and God will show how will communally helped or hindered His Good will to us in the world. In the Church, we aim to be of help to one another, since, after all, we shall be judged for it. Jesus lone New Commandment was to “love one another as I have loved you.”
Thus, The Church is meant to share a deposit of truth, a legacy of faith and goodness, a Bible book of great guidance, and a means of blessings and becoming sacred in the Sacraments, and we have the Holy Spirit to help us—in ways that the Gifts of the Spirit in Isaiah 11 lay out. We especially have one another to love, and to be sharing in all these gifts and more for a holy way. In 1999, Pope John Paul II announced that as our call to universal holiness. The Immaculate Conception Basilica Church in Washington features this as an immense relief art work over the entrance into the church. (Today is the Immaculate Conception day on the calendar, even while we mark Advent Sunday 2.) Jesus wants us to love others as we love ourselves (so says His Golden Rule—Sermon on The Mount), so that means that we are to go to work on ourselves, for a personal holiness, knowing that God will surely and fully examine our particular lives in the end. From there, after the Second Coming and gathering of all the elect before Him, is when He’ll have that General Judgment.
In this Advent time, and pre-Christmas time, Jesus wants us to use the season to surely look at our soulful state, and of how we are of loving help to our neighbor’s life to grace. We are responsible to help the Lord’s Truth come forth to one another’s life. Not by self-righteous judgment or accusation, but by a genuine love of the Body of Christ. We are in Advent mode—for the Coming of The Lord. We hope to be a bride who is ready for The Day.
The judgment we’ll face by God will embrace all works, good or bad, forgiven as well as unforgiven sins, every idle word (Matt.12:36), every secret thought (I Cor.4:5). Theologians teach that even the secret sins of the just will be made manifest, before one another, in order that the judgment may be made complete and that the justice and mercy of God may be glorified. This will not pain or embarrass the saints, but add to their glory, just as the repentance of St. Peter and St. Mary Magdalen is to these saints a source of joy and honor. This truth reminds me of how the early Church in Ireland held their confessions in the parish—as open in front of the priest and everybody else. Surely by that open style, people’s serious sins would be dealt with immediately. Sometimes the parish would kick you out for a mortal sin confessed. You’d only be admitted back if you have squarely repented and made restitution and amends for the sin, and gone to the priest for re-instatement. That sounds a bit difficult for a parish practice! Yet it will be the final practice of the Church as before Our Lord, this we know.
[Should our parish start open confessions, or keep to the present method? J )
Maybe I need to add in here with a Bible verse that often gets misinterpreted or misunderstood. It’s Matthew 7:1. When Jesus said Judge not lest you be judged He was not teaching that we are not to judge, nor never to judge or notify someone how they are sinning. It’s a bit the opposite for understanding Him. Jesus is not telling us never to judge, but to judge fairly. Listen to the rest of what Jesus said in that teaching: “For with the judgment you pronounce, you will be judged.” Jesus means that if you judge out of vengeance or with evil intent, well then, God will deal with you over this, but if you judge honestly and with good intentions, God’s judgment of you will reflect this too. This is an important clarification, because we are called by God to the loving truth. We are called to holiness, and that means we will have to deal with the sins versus God’s commandments and order. There are people in some clear states of sin, as defined by Scripture and Catechism, and they would really be helped by The Church and a caring disciple of Jesus and His Truth to bring that to light for them. Lovingly, prayerfully, carefully. This is not judgmental, but a loving act, to call one another before God’s Light. This is an act of caring, not of judgment.
Judgment of others would perhaps be the case if it were a matter of some clear injustice and infraction on our brother/sister, in some overstepping of boundaries or over acting in some self-righteousness. Yet as often the case today, people cite they are being judged, and what it means is that perhaps are showing un-comfortability with the truth and light in the situation, and giving resistance. Facts are that many have fallen into some hard sin. We need to help that turn around for many to become free in Christ. “For if the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed,” says the Word, and caring persons, inspired by the Eternal Son Himself, are seeking to help people to freedom in His grace, and not a putting down of others. This is a judging correctly. But in the end, it will be God Who has the Final Say on all of us, and we all are sinners and in need of Holy Help, are we not? And, yes, we are our neighbor’s keeper. God’s Word says so. So live so, and humbly!’
In sum, this homily is about notifying the listener of the teaching of Christ and His Church, and that God’s judgment is coming, and for it we must be prepared. We can help one another to be best ready to come under the Light of God, so that, in the finality of things, we shall have dealt with matters truthfully and honestly and corporally, pertaining to God’s standard of good.