THE SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Advent, the Church’s world-wide retreat in preparation for Christmas, now begins its second week. Whilst advent continues for the next number of weeks we have to remember that we are also in the year of Faith and in faith and because of faith we continue our advent journey. Advent is a quiet time, it is the great contrast with our culture’s consumer-bonanza. Consumerism-as a-way-of-life is a blessing in many ways for so many people, but it also shields our eyes against what needs to be prayed for rather than what we might want. This week we hear about the coming “Day of Christ”, and meet the character of John the Baptist. Just as once before he “prepared the way” for the coming of Christ, so today he does the same for us in our time and place. Our hearts should be open to his voice, as he calls us to repentance, and asks us to make the way straight for the coming of our Lord. The imagery of this Sunday is particularly rich: the dominant image is of a vast population moving together – the return from exile in the first reading, the going and coming of the sowers in the psalm, the community of the Church preparing together in Paul’s letter. We prepare for the coming of the Lord as His people – a community who cooperate to make the “processional way” of the Holy One – flattening the hills of opposition and ridicule, filling in the valleys of doubt and despair, so that “all mankind shall see the salvation of God.”
Advent then is a time of joyful anticipation for all of us young and old and all the in-betweens . The prophet Baruch tells us, “It is time, to take off your robe of mourning and misery,” for God is leading his people “with his mercy and justice for company.” God’s people “that is you and i are wrapped in the cloak of justice from God. As Christians, our lifestyle is meant to be different from those around us who are not Christian. If John the Baptist worked alongside us, would he, for example, hear us swearing or see us being uncharitable? And if he did, would he turn a deaf ear or a blind eye I don’t for a moment think his eye would be blind or his ears deaf to our shortcomings. Many of us are reluctant to speak about our faith and share it with others. The challenge of the Good News is to become humble disciples, always permitting the name and power of Jesus Christ to take precedence over our own name and fame. We are looking forward to Christmas: the Christ we seek to welcome calls us to look forward in the way we live and move and have our being and he calls us to look forward to his own coming in glory. Let us look forward in faith and hope to Christmas so when Christmas comes we will be able to get the greatest possible spiritual benefits of this particular season of the year.