Skip to main content

2nd Sunday of Advent

The Messiah is coming… Emmanuel.  How do we know this?  Prophets through the ages have been telling us and their scribes have been preserving those words so that we can recognize the signs.  Our readings for this coming Sunday give a picture of who this deliverer will be, who he’s come for, and how we should respond:

Isaiah 11:1-10
Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
Romans 15:4-9
Mathew 3:1-12

Our first reading is from the prophet Isaiah.  Here he describes for us a vision of the ideal king… the one who will “fear the Lord” and be a just judge; whose words will be his only weapons and whose reign will bring universal peace.  It will be so glorious that all the nations will seek it out.  To our Christian ears, this “shoot of Jesse” (King David’s father) sounds very much like Jesus himself.  But wait… This passage dates back some 720 years before Jesus.  Sometimes when we get a prophecy like this we need to pause and remind ourselves that Isaiah wasn’t speaking specifically about Jesus, but rather, about the qualities the messiah would possess.  Often it is our 20/20 hindsight that allows us to recognize Jesus in this prophecy.  It also helps us to consider where Isaiah was coming from when he said this.  In this case, the previous chapters just before this verse consist of a long and scathing oracle against the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.  Kingdoms that have turned their back on God.  Isaiah is prophesying that there will rise a new king who will love the Lord and serve as the “ideal” king.  Our Psalm reflects this sentiment as we sing, “Justice will flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.”

So, our first reading tells us who this new king will be so we can recognize him when he comes.  But for whom will this new king be coming?  Our second reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans tells us.  First, Paul reminds us to be attentive to the scriptures, because these provide us instruction, endurance, encouragement, and hope.  Then, using those same scriptures, reminds us that Jesus, the prophesied new king, came not only for the Jews, but for the Gentiles as well.

Now that we know who this new king is coming to serve, what must we do to prepare?  Our Gospel from Matthew has the answer.  In this Sunday’s passage we are introduced to John the Baptist… the unconventional messenger for this unconventional new king.  John’s message?  “Repent, for the kingdom is at hand!”  Just as Isaiah was trying to teach the people of Israel and Judah to change their ways and turn back to the Lord, John is reminding the people of Jerusalem (including the Pharisees and Sadducees in attendance) that they much repent of their sins.  It’s decision time, where the wheat will be separated from the chaff.

Final thoughts:

John’s message can be terrifying… leaving us to fear that we will be the chaff sent into the fire.  But John’s message isn’t one of fear, but of hope.  We all have a chance to bear fruit in this new Kingdom of God.  We can all save ourselves from the unquenchable fire.  All we have to do is repent.  To prayerfully examine our consciences, admit where we have made mistakes, and take action to get right and stay right with God.  And it’s an invitation open to everyone!

While I often bemoan the fact that our secular world has confiscated and mutated our traditions of Christmas, I also hold out hope that the true message of Advent and Christmas will come through all the clutter… the message that Christ came for everyone, and salvation is open to all who are willing to follow.


Popular posts from this blog

Post-Lent review... How did you do?

Lent is now behind us, yet in our excitement for Easter (and for Lent being over), how often to you take a moment to look back at your Lenten journey to do a post-game review?

As a volunteer leader and business school graduate, the concept of doing a formal "review" after an event or activity is a long held important practice... one that, unfortunately, tends to get overlooked even at the highest levels.  Still, it remains a staple of standard practice, and for good reason... It affords those involved, and the entire organization, a chance to review everything after the fact... what went well, what didn't, and lay the groundwork for next time.  The same is true for looking back at our Lenten journey.  So... how did you do?

I have to be honest, I sometimes fail to practice what I preach.  For as important as a post-lenten review might be, I hadn't thought of the idea until now.  I didn't even really think about it until this morning when I read the following artic…

Nuns and Nones... continued...

On 6-24-2016 I wrote a brief commentary on what we call the "nones"... that is, those people who check the box that says "none" when asked about their religious affiliation.  That commentary was based on an address by my former high school's principal at their 2016 graduation address.  But this topic of the "nones" returned to my attention with this article posted on our daily Angelus News email from the e-magazine Crux:

Notre Dame debuts digital platform to reach young Catholics, ‘nones’
Please take a moment to read it... 

Of particular interest is the increasing number of "nones," those people who claim no religious affiliation. I first heard this term a few years back from one of the speakers at our LA Religious Education Congress. The term itself grew out of a 2012 Pew Research study that showed this rising trend. Working as I do with the RCIA and Adult Faith Formation, this was a known issue, but the Pew study validated what ma…

5th Sunday of Easter

What happens when you have too much of a good thing?  When a business wins that lucrative new contract or expands into a new location?  Or taking that same idea a bit closer to home, what happens when two families merge through marriage, or when a family welcomes a new child?  We consider this kind of growth to be a good thing, but as with all things, these successes also come with their own baggage.  Our readings for this 5th Sunday of Easter have our Apostles facing similar challenges in the face of their growing successes.

The Word for the 5th Sunday of Easter Acts 6:1-7
Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19
1 Peter 2:4-9
John 14:1-12

Our reading from Acts of the Apostles learning the hard way about the challenges that grow out of their continued success when their number of followers continues to grow.  Up to this point the Apostles have been doing their best to address the needs of the community, both spiritual and physical, but the community has grown so large now that they are becom…