3rd Week of Advent, Tuesday, Dec 15

Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-13 / Matthew 21:28-32 

Zephaniah prophesies: I will prepare a humble people. 

Charles Colson was a top Nixon aide. He went to prison in the Watergate scandal. Later he underwent a religious conversion. Today he spends all his time preaching the Gospel, especially to prisoners. Colson was deeply influenced by C. S. Lewis’s book Mere Christianity. One passage, especially, touched him. “Pride leads to every other vice. . . .As long as you are proud you cannot know God.

A proud man is always looking down on things and people. . . As long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.” Commenting on the impact these words had on him, Colson said, “I felt naked and unclean. . .  Lewis’s words were describing me.”


What role does pride play in our own life? “Learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit.” Matthew 11:29


God had spoken continually to his people in words and deeds, yet they did not listen. But among them a remnant of poor people will return to God. With them, all the pagan, sinful nations will come to serve God. Sinners who recognize their poverty, are perhaps more open to God than those who boast of being righteous. Through them, their faithfulness and zeal, all of the people, even outsiders, are inspired and become better.


It seems that one of the most difficult feelings to cast off is the sense of shame. Be it personal shame, family shame, or shame in whatever scale or level, it is a feeling that brings people low and humiliated. During the time of Jesus, the tax-collectors and prostitutes were never accepted as part of the community because of their shameful deeds. Their shame and humiliation hanged on their necks for the rest of their lives.
So what Jesus said was shocking when He said that tax collectors and prostitutes were making their way into the kingdom of God. Simply because God wants to remove the shame and humiliation of these rejected and despised people and restore their dignity and worth as His people.

The parable of the two sons also has a profound message for us. There is nothing more tragic than someone who started off well and ends up badly. And there is nothing more inspiring than someone who starts off badly but ends up well. Shame and guilt can happen along in life when we make mistakes and stray from the way of truth and love. But the truth is that we are created with dignity and worth.

God sent His only Son Jesus to remove our shame and guilt and to restore our dignity and worth. May we find refuge in our Lord and Saviour Jesus as we journey on this Advent into the heart of God.


Opening Prayer

Lord our God, you are close to the poor and the repentant. Do not allow us to be proud, that we may not trust in ourselves but teach us to be humble and lowly, that we may recognize our limitations and be open to you and to your coming through Jesus Christ our Lord.