2nd Week of Advent (Wednesday, 12th December 2018)

First Reading: Zec 2: 14-17 (I shall dwell among you)
Gospel: Lk 1: 39-47 (Mary visit Elizabeth)

Today’s gospel gives us two instructions and an exhortation. The first instruction is to become wary of becoming a cause of sin for others. The second is to forgive others indefinitely. The exhortation is to carry on his yoke to lighten our burdens. The instructions are implicitly found in the daily prayer to our Lord. We say, “Lead us not into temptation” and “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sinned against us”. Both these are, of course, prayers for oneself. One seeks forgiveness of God for ones’ sins and protection from every evil.

Here we need to recall the words of Jesus on how to be benevolent to others if we wish to receive the benevolence of God. He says “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back” (Lk 6:38). This principle is applied in today’s gospel too. Our prayer for forgiveness and deliverance from sin will be in vain if we ourselves become cause for sins of others or fail to forgive others. It is not only a duty on our part as Christians to set an example for holiness and forgiveness to all but it would be a source of holiness and forgiveness for us too.

Today’s gospel ends with the invitation from Jesus to take up his yoke and follow him. The yoke and burden which he speaks of, as we know are obviously not physical burdens but the religious system and laws laid on the people by the Pharisees. The latter had created so many norms for worship and paying homage to the Lord that people were no longer able to endure them or carry them. Here again implicitly Jesus point out that law alone would not save people. St. Paul would speak of the same in his letter to the Romans. He says, “No human being is justified in his sight by deeds prescribed by the law for through the law comes the knowledge of sin” (Rom 3:20). The yoke Jesus indicates, as we know, is the love of God and love of neighbour. Jesus encourages us to take up this yoke of love for God and neighbour which is only easy.

Apparently, one would think that the love of God and of neighbour is the toughest commandment. One would wonder how Jesus would speak of it as light when practically speaking they are the heaviest burdens. Yes, it will become difficult if we were to love the world. The world offers many things in a very easy and pleasant manner but they in fact they lead us to live the most burdensome when we really look into the consequences of it. St. Cyprian in his sermon on man’s mortality says, “We must remember if the prayer which our Lord commands us to say daily is to have any meaning in our life, we must do God’s will and not our own”. He says further, “Why then do we pray for the kingdom of heaven to come if this earthly bondage pleases or satisfies us?

Jesus points to sin which burdens us and which has to be removed to take up his yoke of love and holiness which is light. Sin leads to eternal damnation as it did in the case of our first parents and as a result of it, they were destined to hard labour but holiness and love led to salvation in and through Christ himself he invites us to the same path of holiness and forgiveness. He spoke of it at the beginning of today’s Gospel and ends saying we can be holy and forgiving if only we take up his yoke i.e. his commandment to love God and neighbour and his call to be perfect as He is. Amen.

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