05Dec Sunday December 5 2021. Second Sunday in Advent

Sunday December 5 2021
Second Sunday of Advent

1st Reading: Baruch 5:1-9

God will level out a highway for the exiles to return

The Lord says this:
Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem,
and put on forever the beauty of the glory from God.
Put on the robe of the righteousness that comes from God;
put on your head the diadem of the glory of the Everlasting;
for God will show your splendour everywhere under heaven.
For God will give you evermore the name,
“Righteous Peace, Godly Glory.”
Arise, O Jerusalem, stand upon the height;
look toward the east,
and see your children gathered from west and east
at the word of the Holy One,
rejoicing that God has remembered them.
For they went out from you on foot,
led away by their enemies;
but God will bring them back to you,
carried in glory, as on a royal throne.
For God has ordered that every high mountain
and the everlasting hills be made low
and the valleys filled up, to make level ground,
so that Israel may walk safely in the glory of God.
The woods and every fragrant tree
have shaded Israel at God’s command.
For God will lead Israel with joy,
in the light of his glory,
with the mercy and righteousness that come from him.

Responsorial: Psalm 125

R./: The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

When the Lord delivered Zion from bondage,
it seemed like a dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter,
on our lips there were songs. (R./)

The heathens themselves said:
‘What marvels the Lord worked for them!’
What marvels the Lord worked for us!
Indeed we were glad. (R./)

Deliver us, O Lord, from our bondage
as streams in dry land.
Those who are sowing in tears
will sing when they reap. (R./)

They go out, they go out, full of tears
carrying seed for the sowing:
they come back, they come back, full of song,
carrying their sheaves. (R./)

2nd Reading: Philippians 1:3-6, 8-11

Unity, perseverance and witness to Christ and the Gospel

I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.

For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

Gospel: Luke 3:1-6

Prepare a way for God, through sincere repentance

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert.

He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,

“The voice of one crying out in the desert:
“Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'”

Good times coming

We are in a dark time of the year. The mornings are dark and the evenings darker still. Light is scarce, and we have yet to reach the shortest day of the year. It is within that darkness that we have lit our second Advent candle today. The days may be getting shorter, but our Advent wreath is getting brighter. The brightness of our Advent readings draws us toward the great feast of light, Christmas, the birthday of the one who is the light of the world.  With the birth of Jesus, the light of God’s love shines out. In today’s first reading, the prophet Baruch looks forward to a day when ‘God will guide Israel in joy by the light of his glory.’

Advent is a hopeful season. Hope is an important virtue, deeper than simple optimism of temperament. We can feel optimistic about all kinds of things, but, strictly speaking, the true object of hope is union with God. We are hopeful  God can bring life out of death, light out of darkness. It is above all in Winter that we need hope. And we pray for anyone going through dark days at the present time, for people insecure in their jobs or their health or their home life, and displaced people and refugees, who wait at barbed wire borders, hoping to get to  a better life.

The second reading (from Philippians) came out of a very dark situation. St Paul. was chained in a Roman prison, probably in Ephesus. And he he wasn’t sure of getting out of prison alive. Yet the letter is the most hopeful and joyful of all Paul’s letters. It shows that one can  remain hopeful even when things look dark. From his prison cell, Paul is grateful for his friendship with the Philippians and is hopeful for their future. He cheerfully recalls their progress so far as a local church. They were no more perfect than other people, but Paul chooses to celebrate their generosity. He praises them for helping to spread the good news from the days they first heard it.

We can be tempted in dark times to look at everything with bleary eyes. Paul bids us to look at life, and, especially, at people with hopeful eyes, even in dark times. To see people through hopeful eyes makes us aware of the good in their lives. Let’s recognise what they have done rather than what they have failed to do. Paul hopes that God who began this good work among them would bring it to completion. He had high ideals about what people could become with God’s help.

Let’s see ourselves with hopeful eyes. God’s good work has only begun in us. We are a work in progress God will  bring the good work to completion. We just need to co-operate with the working of grace. By the end of our life this work will be complete, and we will have reached  ‘the perfect goodness which Jesus Christ produces in us’.

We are all Advent people

Poor old Advent. It gets stampeded. It is overrun. Who cares about Advent – it is only an unruly intruder on the way to Christmas. But it isn’t. Advent drags us back to basics. The very essence of humanity means patience. We can easily get overwhelmed by the ‘fast lane of life.’ We are in such a hurry. We want everything now. We rush from experience to experience. We can’t cope with the bigness of life. Stop. Look. Listen. The simple message of Advent is to glance back at the Jews, waiting for the Saviour to come. If we have (similar) feelings; we can feel with them. We can easily link up our own waiting in life, to their waiting.

Waiting for a child to be born. Waiting for day to come. Waiting for buses. Waiting for an appointment in a hospital. Waiting in A&E is a very good indicator of Advent. Waiting for the end of winter. Waiting for the sun to shine. Waiting to get well. Waiting for pain to go. Waiting to grow up. Waiting for visitors. But above all, it is learning not to live just in the present moment. It is stopping ourselves being addicted to the concerns of only today. Advent reminds us to be much bigger in our thinking. Look around. Stop. Think of the past. Look at nature. Look at the companions of life. Be grateful. Never be consumed by NOW. See the broader picture. . .  (Seamus Ahearne).

Make his Paths Straight

During Advent we are meant, like the Baptist, to prepare the way for  Jesus as our Saviour. We need to  see what in our lives needs straightening out. The imagery of filling in the valleys and levelling hills is a call to care about justice for all God’s people. One could say that the Baptist called for a level playing field for all, so that everybody has fair access to the amenities of this world. He was against hoarding, dominance and aggression. Isaiah offers hope that “all people will see the salvation sent to us from our God.” God’s word has a message for me. I am  to turn from my sins,  and to prepare the way for him. I am to help ensure fair play and justice for others.

Filling valleys, levelling mountains, straightening the crooked road, preparing a pathway for the Lord. All this is our preparation for Christmas. Of course it involves decisions, and these decisions from of the realities of my life. God is always calling for a response. Responding to him is to become responsible.

Many parishes have a Penance Service during Advent. It may be called “Confession of sins without listing them” To some people, this seems too simple, too easy. But let’s not forget the purpose of the Penance Service. Sin has a community dimension. When I do wrong, I fail other people by failing to live up to my Christian vocation. The community is diminished by my sin, so there should be a community aspect to my repentance. So it’s right to make a public acknowledgement of my sinfulness and my need for the grace of God as part of my preparation for Christmas. In the season of peaceful good-will, we need to restate our good-will, and act on it. We try to do our part in making his paths straight!


4 Responses

  1. Thara Benedicta

    Sunday 5 December – Second Sunday of Advent…

    Key Message:
    Jesus will turn our manger to a mansion. Let us be thrilled to receive Him.

    The takeaway from the first reading:
    In the first reading, God calls us to be happy and promises us that we will be richly compensated for all the sorrows we have endured. It says that you went out on foot but you will be brought back on royal thrones. God, our Father has arranged for this, by the Blood of our Loving Lord Jesus Christ. We have a promise of a royal throne in Heaven, though we may not have it on earth. Whenever we wonder what is the use of undergoing the pains on earth, let us remember that they have redemptive power and God will compensate us with a royal throne, beautiful mansion, storehouse with treasures in Heaven!!

    The takeaway from the second reading:
    The Apostle Paul is saying that all the good things God has started in you, He will bring it to completion. This is irrespective of the weakness that we possess. We should not worry about our in capabilities and then doubt whether God will be able to guide and take care of us, because we repeatedly do things wrong. How much wrong we ever do, if our intent is right, God will not be confused. He is capable of making all of us conquerors when we believe in Him. Our Lord Jesus who rose Lazarus from the dead was still not able to do miracles in his hometown because of the lack of faith. So we should not keep focussing on our weakness but instead, focus and set our minds on God’s strength. Then God will be able to abundantly bless us.

    The takeaway from the Gospel reading:
    The prophecy in the first reading happened in the Gospel. John the Baptist’s call for repentance was recorded as preparation for the first coming of the Lord. During this Christmas season also, as we prepare for the external celebration, let us also prepare our hearts to receive our Baby Jesus. Probably by now, Baby Jesus would have been counting eagerly from His mother’s womb when He could come out to show His love. When any of our close relatives come from a far-off land just to see us, we really feel happy. Here our Lord Jesus came from Heaven not only to see us and take care of us but to sacrifice His life for us, giving us the Heavenly throne. How privileged we are. Though there may be financial constraints or any other issue, let us be joyful, because there is a person – the Lord Jesus, who came down from Heaven to earth just for us. He is full of blessings for us. Let us claim and enjoy it.

    Tips for enjoying the Advent season:
    1. As the Apostle Paul says that God is the author and finisher of our faith, we need not keep worrying about whether we are right in all our activities. One hundred percent we cannot be fully right, because of our human weakness. But our Lord Jesus will compensate for them. It is only our aim to stay on the right path that matters. So let us be patient and rest in our Lord as He can take care of training us. What we can do, we will do, and the rest only God can do. For example, let us consider the case of Saint Monica and her son Saint Augustine. Saint Monica was not able to change Augustine by speaking with him or any other direct means of changing him. But when she talked to God alone, her son became Saint Augustine. Here the mother tried to change her son but did not lose hope. She turned out to God saying it is impossible for her to convert her son, then God did the magic. Even if we are facing some problem that we are not able to solve, let us patiently keep pressing on God. While we rest, God will surely take care of our problem.

    2. The higher the measure of faith, the higher the blessings.
    Let us consider an example. The Apostle Peter walking on water. When Jesus was walking on water and coming towards the boat, not only Peter, but the other Apostles were also present. But who enjoyed walking on water? If the other Apostles also had asked our Lord Jesus, ‘Jesus, Please make me walk on water, I also want to enjoy it, would Jesus have refused it? He would have been overjoyed to see everyone enjoying the walk on the water. All would have desired to walk on water, but the Apostle Peter had the courage to ask and get it. So let us plead for bigger things and enjoy abundant life. The whole of nature continuously tells about God’s abundance and His blessings in abundance. Has there been any part of creation which was scarcely blessed? Let us tell our loving Almighty Father lovingly all about our sorrows and needs. The one who has sacrificed His own son for our sake will surely take care of our needs!!

    3. When God is working on our problems, we should not allow the devil to stop them. Let us consider the example of Israel reaching the Promised Land. Initially, God planned the travel from Egypt only an eleven-day trip. But the complaining and lack of faith in Israelites made it extend to 40 years. The same may happen in our cases also. We may be expecting a breakthrough for a long time, but unknowingly we will be stopping the blessings for the breakthrough. The Bible says, “Let your wants be known to God with thanksgiving”, it does not say “with complaining”. So when we ask God let us ask with thanksgiving only.

    God sent His only Son just for us. Won’t He take care of us?

  2. Kevin Walters

    Sunday 5 December – Second Sunday of Advent…

    The core of the ongoing challenge in understanding the Word (Will) of God is to approach Him in complete ‘honesty’ for if we do so we will follow His Way one of spiritual enlightenment, as in “repent” (Change direction) leading to a transformation of the human heart into a compassionate humble one, the known dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.

    Isaiah 40;3-6 “Prepare the way for the Lord in the wilderness; make a straight highway for our God in the desert. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill made low; the uneven ground will become smooth, and the rugged land a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all humanity together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

    My personal understanding of Isaiah 40;3-6

    “Prepare the way for the Lord in the wilderness” (Brokenness/Lawlessness of our hearts) “make a straight highway (Of Truth wide and open) for our God (The Holy Spirit to enter) “in the desert” (dryness of it). Then “Every valley (Heart) shall be lifted up, (From baseness) and every mountain and hill (Of pride) made low; the uneven (Distorted) ground will become smooth, and the rugged (Coarse) land (Heart) a plain (of humility)
    “And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all humanity together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken

    And said to us

    “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”

    Humility is the key for it takes an honest heart to truly see the ‘full’ fallen reality of oneself as in “One Iota” before Him. For then we find self-knowledge (The reality of ourselves) as we reflect in faith on the living inviolate Word/Will of God found within the Gospels while The Holy Spirit prompts/enlightens our understanding of our own brokenness which leads us into humility as a humble heart is a restful heart which is the Holy Spirits known dwelling place.

    Please consider continuing this theme via the link with a continuation of posts and comments.


    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  3. Joe O'Leary

    Readings Dec 5, 2021…

    The author of the book of Baruch is a rather obscure figure, who got into the Bible by the skin of his teeth. The name is that of Jeremiah’s secretary, but he may be writing centuries later than Jeremiah. The book is deutero-canonical, being absent from the Hebrew Bible and consequently from Protestant Bibles, and it found its way even into the Catholic Bible, the Vulgate, very belatedly, only in the ninth century, St Jerome having excluded it from his translation in the fifth.

    Baruch’s theme is unprepossessing too: a meditation on the worst period in Jewish history, the long exile in Babylon. In language less heartfelt and dramatic than that of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the book of Lamentations, Baruch sighs morosely over Israel as a hopeless case. He recycles the ancient monitions about the waywardness of Israel and the displeasure of God, about the need to relearn the paths of Wisdom and Torah, about the urgency of returning to the Lord with tenfold zeal. But does he feel that no one is really listening, that the the message is dying on his own lips?

    One imagines him as a familiar figure on the preaching circuits, always to be relied on to recite eloquently the old lore, and to reassure the audience, even in what were then modern times, with a sense of their ancient identity as Israel, the people scolded by God. But even when old Baruch evoked the two most glorious moments of redemption in Israel’s past, namely the exodus from Egypt and the return from the Babylonian captivity, he may have done so with a sinking feeling that all this had been heard before and was making no real impact.

    But poetry takes over at the end, in the passage the Church serves up for our delectation today: ‘Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem, and put on forever the beauty of the glory from God’ (5:1). Human mediocrity is intractable and irreformable, indifference and mockery are impregnable, but God remains God: ‘Arise, O Jerusalem, stand upon the height; look toward the east, and see your children gathered from west and east at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that God has remembered them’ (5:5).

    This happy ending is a surprise of the Spirit, stirring people to the depth of their souls. The divine ‘medicine of mercy’ bears no relation to the unworthiness of its recipients. They can continue to look at themselves in morose defeatism, convinced that nothing will ever change, and that their lives and institutions have settled into a condition of paralysis. Or they can hear the shout of joy that breaks out on Zion and tells that the Lord is nigh (Isaiah 40).

    Every year Advent springs on us from nowhere, bringing just such a message. We thought the game was played out and that promises of redemption were mere dreams. But we missed the resources of the divine player, who can overturn the most settled and sullen indifference and teach us to dance anew to the old music, which is ever new.

  4. Paddy Ferry

    Sunday, December 5 2021.

    Excellent, Joe. Thank you for that and greetings from a crisp December Sunday morning here in Edinburgh.

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