Joyful Harmony
2nd Sunday of Advent (A)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

We are in the second Sunday of Advent. There are two Sundays more before Christmas. By this time some choir groups are practicing their Christmas carols. In school, churches, and offices there are the traditional programs with contests for the best renditions of Christmas songs. There are solo performances but I still prefer to listen to groups singing in harmony. In the Philippines when two or three people sing together, somebody eventually sings “second voice” or “third voice”. Some people have the knack to pick up a tune and blend with the group.

Harmony is a proportionately balanced state of affairs. In music different tunes blend together to form a beautiful sound. When used to describe activities, it pertains to the working together of the different parts to achieve a common goal. I always wonder at the ability of auto mechanics to listen to the sound of the engine and then make the judgment that “fine-tuning” has to be done. It seems a car engine’s sound is music to their ears.

Action starter: Ask not what others can do for you, ask rather what you can do for others.

When it comes to human relationships we would prefer harmony over disharmony. We long for harmony within our family, among our friends, our neighborhoods, our nation, and the whole world. As I write this, Ray Conniff’s old tune about love and brotherhood comes to mind, “Harmony, harmony, let’s all join in harmony.”

A harmonious state of affairs is one of the characteristics of the reign of the Messiah. In the first reading from the prophet Isaiah (11:1-10), there is the expectation of the ideal ruler under whom, “the wolf lives with the lamb, the panther lies down with the kid, calf and lion cub feed together with a little boy to lead them.” Perhaps a modern translation would be, “the political oppositionists and the administration work together for the common good, the army and the rebels stop fighting, and sworn enemies reconcile.” In the international scene, the Palestinians and the Israeli live peacefully together, the various Iraqi factions rebuild the country. In the domestic scenes, husbands and wives talk peacefully about their family problems, parents and children listen to each other. In industries and offices, employer and employee arrive at just terms of employment and go for greater productivity.

St. Paul advised the Romans (15:5), “Be tolerant with each other, following the example of Christ Jesus, so that united in mind and voice you may give glory to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This harmonious state of affairs can come about only if we undergo a change of heart. Thus, St. John the Baptist preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand” (Mt. 3:2).

At the heart of disharmony is selfishness. It is a lack of regard for the others. Imagine a choir where each member sings his own way, with no regard for the tune or the beat. The song will be chaotic and dissonant. This Advent will be more meaningful if we identify sources of dissonance in us. Conversion may take the form of changing our focus. We focus on what others are saying. We focus on what others need. We focus on what is best for our neighborhood or our country. U.S. President John F. Kennedy, paraphrasing the poet Kahlil Gibran said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask rather what you can do for your country.”

With more listening, sensitivity (pakikiramdam), and charity for one another, we may be able to arrive at a harmonious and a fuller life.