2nd Sunday of Advent ~ 5 December 2021 ~ Bible Readings for Mass: I: Baruch 5:1-9; Responsorial: Psalm 126; II: Philippians 1: 4-6, 8-11; Luke 3:1-6
“The Word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert. John went…proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins… A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord.’ “ Luke 3:2-4. These words from Luke’s Gospel with their holy roots from Isaiah the prophet bring us the Advent call to prepare for the coming King, Jesus the Messiah. The bright light of God’s Word beckons us to know we are called to be ready for the return of the King of Kings. But we also are seeing our path beckon us to celebrate, anew the coming of our King, God with us, born in a stable. We are called, with joy, to know and prepare for our coming King of glory, we are called to realize God is leading!
God, in speaking to our hearts today would help us know that the sufferings, sorrows, and challenges of this world are very real. God feels and realizes in ways we cannot fathom, the pain and tears we experience in life. The responsorial psalm for this day promises that those who sow in tears will reap in joy as we but trust and seek our God and savior. The prophet John, in the gospel affirms that we are called to immerse our life in repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The baptism of John was a precursor of the Christian baptism as a sacrament of rebirth, and immersion into the grace, family, and kingdom of God. In what may be simpler terms it is an immersion into the forgiveness of God, into the will, the Presence of God found in Christ our redeemer. But this immersion into God is only the beginning.
Our reading from the Old Testament book of Baruch contains exquisite insight and promise into an essential part of our Advent preparations. “Up, Jerusalem! Stand upon the heights…at the word of Holy One… for God is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory with his mercy and justice for company.”
We may think of contrition and repentance for sin as a sorrowful and remorse-filled way of life. And indeed our sins are a very real source of sorrow and pain that cannot be denied or ignored. But shall we choose to live in the darkness of guilt and fear when, if, we have sought the mercy and forgiveness of God? Is it right to place more faith in our failings than in God’s mercy?
Let us listen carefully to the Holy Spirit speaking to our hearts. God is calling us to stand up, on the heights at the word of the Holy One! Let us let Jesus lead us with joy, with His glory, mercy, and justice! The gospels share many accounts of Jesus leading his follower to the mountain top. The sermon on the mount, the mount of transfiguration, the feeding of the multitudes, the tearful mount of Calvary, and the mount of the ascension. Each place God would lead us He seeks to reveal to us, with joy, God’s Presence, mercy, and love.
Today, in the midst of the problems facing the world, our nation, the church, and our own families, and lives GOD is LEADING! This holy, sacred season of Advent, despite the challenge or needs that may exceed our abilities or resources, GOD is LEADING! Every step we take with God, to receive and share His mercy, to proclaim and work for His justice is a step where God’s glory will be revealed. It may not be in a great chorus of Christmas music or an angelic chant. It may be in the smile of someone to whom you have shown the same mercy that you have received from our Savior. It may be the realization of God’s Presence in the garden or wildlands where you have worked to live more just, more gently upon the land. Or it may be a simple listening to a soul with the hope and compassion God would bring through you in a true moment of Advent.