06Dec 2nd Sunday of Advent

1st Reading: Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11

God is coming to save his people and to open up our way into the future.

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her
that she has served her term,
that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.

A voice cries out:
“In the desert prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Get you up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good tidings;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings,
lift it up, do not fear;
say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!”

See, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
He will feed his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms,
and carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead the mother sheep.

2nd Reading: Second Epistle of St. Peter 3:8-14

God gives us time to repent and so be ready to meet him when he comes.

But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.

Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.

Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish.

Gospel: Mark 1:1-8

John the Baptist prepares the people for the coming of their Saviour

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'”

John the baptizer appeared in the desert, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

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Our need for preachers

The ministry of John the Baptist could be the focus of today’s homily. He prepared the minds of people for the age of the Messiah. God sends the message of salvation and meaningful living to us through each other. St Paul once asked: “How can people know about God if they have never heard? and how can they hear if nobody is sent to them?” He holds the vocation of preaching as vital, if God is to be known and loved. Jesus found his first disciples among the circle of the Baptist’s followers. John taught the value of self-control and of prayer, and urged them to listen to the inner voice of God in their hearts. The high point of John’s short ministry was meeting with Jesus. As well as baptising Jesus, he encouraged some of his own followers to join the Jesus movement. It was through the Baptist that Andrew and his brother Peter, and Philip and Nathanael became apostles.

Each of us can help other people to know and love God. If we were more committed, maybe we could do more to influence others towards faith. Parents can introduce their children to God by teaching them about trust and prayer. But this will only be effective if built on the example of their actual life. In all sorts of way, people are in position to influence others, for good or ill. This is clearly so for those who work in the communications.. But ordinary people doing ordinary jobs can also influence the views and values of those they interact with. Does our way of speaking and behaving help others to share our values, or do we confirm their suspicion that this world is a selfish and cynical place?

What about promoting vocations to the priesthood or other ministry, or any form of service to the church of Christ? The future of our church as an organised, priest-served community handing on the prayer-life and values of Jesus is under serious question today. But if enough people open their hearts to God’s work, like John the Baptist and those first disciples, Andrew and Philip and Peter, then a way will be found to keep the world aware of the saving message of Christ. In the process, our bishops may need to be urged by many practicing Catholics to open up the priesthood to well motivated married people, as well as to the traditional but diminishing cadre of the voluntarily celibate.


Comfort my people

The word ‘power’ can have negative echoes for us, suggesting an overbearing will to dominate others. Isaiah speaks about power of the Lord that in a very different way. God is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms, holding them to his breast, and gently leading the ewes who are due to give birth. This is a very tender power, a life-force of faithful and enduring love, a love that gathers and nurtures and reassures. This is the God whom John the Baptist invites us to rediscover this Advent.

It is this God who comes to us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. John the Baptist refers to Jesus as “more powerful than I am.” Jesus is the powerful one, in the sense that the first reading defines power. He gives full expression to God’s tender love that brings healing to the broken, strength to the weak and rest to the weary. It is this adult Jesus, now risen Lord, whose coming towards us and present to us we celebrate at Christmas. The Baptist calls us this Advent to prepare a way in our lives for the coming of this Lord, this Shepherd, in whom mercy and faithfulness have met, justice and peace have embraced.(Responsorial Psalm). This is the God whom we seek this Advent, who can give greater depth to all our other encounters.


4 Responses

  1. Lorcán Kenny

    Today, my mam pulled these dying flowers out of her planter.
    I’d bought it, to cheer her thoughts the first week of lockdown.
    Bought in a hardware store,
    I hoped it would soften her thoughts;
    As she finished chemo, for a third time.
    Chemo and gardening she approaches with resolute mind…
    …There’s a touch or the Baptist about her,
    she speaks only the truth.
    Indeed, many of us who are drawn to her words, no, her proclamations,
    are all the better for her sage-ways.
    She cuts a path through pain, ruthlessly shedding that which no longer flowers,
    or gives her mind joy.
    She faces fear, and it takes all her strength to dig deep, finding solace in unusual sources….
    …..locusts and wild honey becomes lyric fm and late night jazz that I do not understand.
    She finds solace in other truth tellers and cannot bear falseness, hypocrisy or flowers that need to be dug up.
    There’s a ruthlessness to gardening, for she has learnt she has to tend the garden of her mind.
    Fear is the relentless onslaught of weeds. Love is the strong arm wielding trowel and hoe, for Love is a mighty defence, when winter’s chill calls and November leaves swirl and fall.
    She rests now, for “Love must wait, like the Baptist, for the one who is to come”.
    I smile, and gather the fallen flowers in my hand,
    planting hopeful snowdrops and think of that waiting Prophet, so long ago…
    …in that far-off, Holy Land.

  2. SHELLEY+RICE

    Hello. I write the Prayers of the Faithful for our weekend Masses, and I find your reflections on the Sunday readings make it much easier for me to do so. Thank you many times! God bless, and have a rewarding Advent season.

  3. Thara+Benedicta

    Key message:
    We will Repent and walk the path of holiness.

    Homily:
    Takeaway from first reading:
    God wants us to hear tender words during Christmas Season. Words full of comfort, saying you have suffered double for all your sins, it’s enough. God says that He will carry us in His bosom. O, what beautiful words of comfort!! We feel that we are left alone, unwanted and uncared for. But actually God is carrying us in His bosom. He will make us come out of our trials and will make us rejoice.
    God is carrying you. He will never abandon you.

    Takeaway from second reading:
    Short story:
    Mamma had given her 10 year-old daughter Laura a week to clean her room. She had told Laura that by Sunday if she had cleaned her room, she would have the beautiful rose plant in her room’s balcony as per her wish. But if she did not clean it then her favourite Barbie toy would be taken away from her. During that week, the thought that she needed to clean was coming up in her mind, but then she would be feeling lazy as usual and kept postponing it. Finally, it was Sunday morning and the room was as messy as ever. Laura woke up with this fear that any moment Mamma would come to see the room. So she started cleaning. At every bang of the door, she felt that it would be Mamma, but it was always someone else. Around 7 pm in the evening, she finished cleaning up her room. Then Mamma came, appreciated her little one for cleaning up and placed Laura’s favourite rose plant in her room’s balcony. Laura told Mamma, ‘If you had come to my room in the morning, I would have lost my Barbie doll’. Mamma sweetly hugged her and said, “Actually I was waiting for you to clean up”.
    We think God is delaying, but He is actually giving us some time to repent and turn back to Him.

    Takeaway from Gospel reading:
    The preparation during the first coming was a call to repentance for forgiveness of sins. God planned a beautiful scheme of events for the birth of John the Baptist. He was blessed by Mother Mary, he was filled with Holy Spirit when he was in his mother’s womb, and especially foretold as the voice for a call of repentance in the desert. What was the significant task he was specially trained for? His task was to call people to repentance and to live a life of holiness – preparing the way for the Lord. Let us investigate the guidelines of John the Baptist:
    Call to repentance:
    In John 3:36, John the Baptist says – “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” John the Baptist warns about the continual wrath of God, if we do not repent and accept His Son Lord Jesus as our Saviour.
    Call for holiness:
    In Luke 3:10-14, John the Baptist says- ‘And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” Tax collectors also came to be baptised and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorised to do.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”’
    John the Baptist’s guidelines to be Holy are quick to understand and easy to follow..
    1. Do good to others – share your food, clothing, etc.
    2. Do not be bad to others – Do not extract anything from anyone unjustly.

    There is a lot of fear in all our minds when we think we need to live a life of holiness. But John the Baptist encourages us by giving very simple and useful guidelines here. We can be holy when we do our daily simple chores too.

    Tips to pursue in holiness from the sayings of John the Baptist and the lessons of Christmas:
    1. Baby Jesus did not own anything, but everyone was comfortable and enjoying His presence. The wise men, shepherd, cattle all were happy in His presence. Are we making others comfortable in our presence? Or are we creating/maintaining a cold war situation in our house/office?
    2. The trials of Mother Mary during the last stage of pregnancy were huge. Instead of having a comfortable stay at home, she travelled miles and miles on a donkey. She could not find a house to give birth in. Was in an alien land with unknown people. She trusted in God. God did not create a mansion for them to rest, but He made it all beautiful finally. During our trials are we trusting in God for a happy ending?
    3. When the disciples of John the Baptist tell him that ‘Jesus is also baptising and everyone is going to Jesus’, then John the Baptist says “He must increase, and I must decrease”. When someone does better than us and grows up, do we thank God for it or are we jealous?
    4. In John 3:30, John the Baptist says: “The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.” John’s heart was beating with joy, when he understood that His job was completed. Do we realise the scope of our task, and not get involved unnecessarily in other people’s tasks?
    5. John the Baptist confronted King Herod boldly. But still, King Herod liked to listen to him and was frightened of him because Herod knew that John the Baptist was a holy man. We may not be able to confront anyone with words, but if we lead a life of Holiness, people themselves will be frightened of us.
    6. According to John the Baptist – The path to holiness is very simple – Being just in all our actions. Not wasting time in office hours, not bringing office supplies home, not taking bribes, teaching children integrity from a young age, teaching them sharing is caring, not taking more money from anyone that we are supposed to, not misusing our power or position for a selfish reason.

    Holiness is an easy way in everyday life.

  4. Rev. Okwudilichukwu Eruo

    It’s my first time visiting this site; but I must say it does help to hear this Sunday’s homily from two different perspectives as I get together my final thoughts for this weekend masses at Sheppard AFB Wichita Falls Texas. I think I am ready to mount the pulpit and to share Gods words with my Airmen.
    Thank you.


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