December 6, 2015 — Second Sunday of Advent
Based upon the readings for this Second Sunday in Advent, we can almost summarize them from the First Reading to the Gospel, as Joy in the Coming; Thanksgiving for the Coming; and Repentance and Preparation for the Coming. That also more or less recaps what Advent is all about for us as Catholics. We are preparing both for the birth of Christ, His arrival at Christmas, as well as making an effort to prepare for the Lord’s Second Coming. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#524) “When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for His second coming.”
On this Second Sunday of Advent our First Reading comes to us from the Book of Baruch. Considered a major prophet by the Church, Baruch was the assistant to the prophet Jeremiah. His Book is among the shortest in the Bible, Old or New Testament, with only 6 chapters and a few more than 200 words. Our particular reading for the day is part of an ode, a poem, written to extol the predicted saving grace of the Messiah. There are actually four different poems in this chapter of Baruch, and each opens with the declaration “Take courage.” Baruch, like his fellow prophets tells us of the coming of Christ and how that will indeed be our “saving grace.” Note the poetic nature of this passage as exemplified by these verses: “The forests and every fragrant kind of tree have overshadowed Israel at God’s command; for God is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory.” Christmas is a time for poems and songs.
Baruch tells us that Christ is coming. St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians reminds us of the importance of prayer and of his confidence in us and the Philippians: “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” The “day of Christ Jesus” is what the purpose of our Advent preparation is. Just as Paul “prays constantly” we, too, must find times and ways of praying — every day multiple times, if possible. It is through prayer that the Lord becomes a key part of our lives. The “good work” to which Paul makes reference will not and cannot be entirely and perfectly completed until Christ comes again. In the meantime prayer and thanksgiving are paramount. This is a time for us to seek the “fruit of righteousness” that Paul sees as necessary for us to be good stewards and Disciples of Christ.
St. John the Baptist is the harbinger of Jesus Christ. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#523) we are told “St. John the Baptist is the Lord’s immediate precursor or forerunner, sent to prepare his way.” On this Second Sunday of Advent, if we have not already, we need to also prepare for the way of Christ. John the Baptist had one consistent message and that had to do with “repentance.” Repentance is another important phase of our Advent journeys. For St. John the Baptist repentance is not an attitude, not something where we feel remorse in our hearts; it is something active. It involves conversion and change. What are we doing right now in our lives to pursue life differently? How are we working to make stewardship an important part of our understanding and our lifestyle? There are many ways we can alter the direction of our lives so that we serve more and better. This desire to serve needs to be done as part of our preparation for the coming of Christ. Advent is the time!