Bulletin: December 6, 2020
Second Sunday of Advent
In 2020, we heard plenty of voices speaking out and sharing their opinions, but many of those words were not comforting or hope-filled. Sometimes, it was hard to know which expert or “instant expert” to listen to, and it is still difficult to hope as we struggle to regain our balance as a nation and as a Church. The Word of God offers us peace this day. All our readings remind us of a faithful God who always keeps the promises made. Isaiah prophesied about the end of Jerusalem’s time away from God, and the Psalm speaks of “seeing God’s kindness and hearing what God proclaims.” Second Peter explains that God’s timing may not be the same as ours, but good things await those who are alert. In the Gospel, John the Baptist reiterates and completes the prophecy of Isaiah by laying the groundwork and preparing the way for those who await the coming of the Messiah.
With COVID-19, much time is spent wondering “where did it start?” or “who passed it on to whom?” Though science can tell us much there are many unanswered questions. Today’s Gospel is about as concrete as sacred scripture gets. We know this is the beginning of the Gospel of Mark, which was the first Gospel to be written down in about 70 AD. Unlike Luke and John, Mark does not begin with an infancy narrative of Jesus. He starts by proclaiming the prophecy of Isaiah. This section was written six hundred years before Christ, in another time of great upheaval, as the Israelites were displaced from their homeland during the Babylonian Exile. The first words of Isaiah 40 are “Comfort, comfort, my people.” John the Baptist starts by explaining he is the go-between, sent to “Prepare the way.”
DON’T SHOOT THE MESSENGER
While proclaiming the coming Christ is a thing of joy, John’s words are also harsh, reminding us to repent and prepare. People were threatened by them two thousand years ago, and some still are today. People can hear them and be turned off by “fire and brimstone,” and none of us like to be told what to do. But think about it. This year, we have all engaged in social distancing and endured hardships to protect our families and others.
Similarly, when you have company coming, you do house cleaning, meal prep, and lots of things to make the place ready for the arrival of your guests—necessary preparation. So we as individuals must make ourselves ready for the coming Christ to reside in us. This may mean repenting for sins, seeking the sacrament of penance, or taking time with a spiritual director. Perhaps it means carving out more times and places for Christ to be born in our hearts or taking on another spiritual practice. Maybe it means simply doing what the psalm asked and using our eyes and ears and mind and heart to seek Christ.