December 9, 2018 — Second Sunday of Advent
The readings for the Second Week of Advent offer both encouragement and challenge during this brief but important season of the liturgical year. Recall from last week that the purpose of this season is reflection on and preparation for the two “comings” of Christ — His coming as a baby on the great feast of Christmas, and the anticipation of His second coming at the end of time.
Our First Reading, from Baruch, is a wonderful reminder of that God has already triumphed over sin and death and that we, His faithful disciples, will live in the light of His glory one day. “Up, Jerusalem! Stand upon the heights; look to the east and see your children gathered from the east and the west at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that they are remembered by God… For God has commanded that every loft mountain be made low…that Israel may advance secure in the glory of God… for God is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory, with his mercy and justice for company.”
Until He comes again, we must remain faithful to Him as true disciples and good stewards of all the gifts He has given us. While it can be tempting to give in to the materialism and calls for self-indulgence that surround us, (ironically more than ever at this time of year), this reading calls us back to the spiritual reality that this life is passing and that we are made for eternal life with God. We are called to prepare for eternal life by the way that we use our time, our talents and our treasure now.
In the Second Reading, the letter of St. Paul to the Philippians, Paul gives us a pep talk as we make our stewardship journey, and we modern-day disciples can take heart in his words. He tells us, “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.” Paul reminds us of two important realities that should greatly encourage us. First, that the stewardship way of life is very much a journey. We don’t have to have every aspect of our life perfectly nailed down; we are all “works in progress”’ called simply to take one step at a time closer to Christ. Second, it is God who started this good work in us — on the day of our Baptism — He cares deeply about this journey of ours and He will give us all the grace and strength we need to stay faithful to Him and continue growing in love and imitation of Christ.
The Gospel reading from Luke shows us how personal and detailed is God’s love for humanity as He prepared the way for Christ’s coming among us. We are told the precise time, place and person, John the Baptist, He appointed to announce the arrival of our Savior. Through John, we are told how to celebrate to the fullest this first “coming” on the feast of Christmas and how to prepare for the second coming — through repentance.
This Advent let’s turn away from any bad habits or sin that may have crept in to our lives and turn our hearts and minds back to Christ. This is what the stewardship way of life is all about —moving ever closer in relationship with Christ and imitation of Him, ready to celebrate His birth, with eyes fixed on eternal life with Him.