The Season of Advent.
Sunday 10th December: Second Sunday of Advent. (B)
The first reading, from the Prophet Isaiah, gives a message of hope and consolation to the exiled people in Babylon. In human terms, there was little reason for them to hope. Isaiah, however, assures them that God will come to their aid. He points to the time of the Messiah, promised to the people. Just as the people in Babylon were urged to prepare a way for the Lord, so we, too, are called to do the same. We are called to bring the Lord to birth in our hearts and lives but we must prepare ourselves.
In the Gospel passage, from St. Mark’s Gospel, the figure of John the Baptist looms large. Like Isaiah, he is urging the people to prepare themselves for the coming of the Saviour but now it is going to happen much sooner. He issues the call to repentance to which each one of us must respond.
Even in the second reading, from the second Letter of St. Peter, we hear the message that, even if the Lord appears to be slow in coming, it is to give the people an opportunity to be ready to meet him when he comes. It is another opportunity given to repent and prepare the way of the Lord.
Monday 11th December: Monday in the second week of Advent.
All this week, Isaiah gives great messages of hope and comfort. Rejoice, have courage, do not be afraid. Your God is coming to save you. Sorrow and suffering will be ended. We must keep alive our faith in God and our hope in a future with him when joy and gladness will be ours.
The forgiveness of sins where we naturally expect a physical cure indicates the main efforts of Jesus work. Sin is the barrier to the Kingdom of God.
Tuesday 12th December: Tuesday in the second week of Advent.
The time for deliverance has come says Isaiah. The people have suffered enough and their sin is atoned for. The voice cries in the wilderness – Prepare the way of the Lord. The people will be returned safely to their homeland and that will show the power and the majesty of God.
This brief parable insists on the responsibility of the shepherd for everyone of his flock. So too God cares for each one of us. We are called to imitate him in this role.
Wednesday 13th December: Memorial of St. Lucy.
Very little is known about St. Lucy except that she was martyred in Syracuse in Sicily. A Greek inscription found there in 1894 testifies to the devotion to the saint from at least the 4th century. The account of her martyrdom states that she wanted to consecrate herself to God and decided to give the money allocated for her dowry to the poor. Her angry fiancé brought her to court where she was tortured and finally executed in 304 because she would not give up her faith.
Thursday 14th December: St. John of the Cross.
Again, Isaiah is trying to encourage the people of Israel. He speaks of God, taking them by the hand and making them strong.
In the Gospel passages, we have been concentrating on John the Baptist’s anticipation of the saviour. Now he talks of the coming of the Messiah. Jesus talks that he it is who will fulfil many of the prophecies we have heard since the beginning of Advent.
Friday 15th December: Friday in the second week of Advent.
This reading lists the blessings God intended for his people were it not for their faithlessness. If they had listened as revealed in commandments and observed them, they would not be in the tragic situation of the exile. However, not all is lost. The God who condemns them is also their redeemer. If they repent and promise to amend their ways, salvation is waiting for them.
People rejected the message of John the Baptist because he was too much of an ascetic. They were not comfortable with Jesus because he mixed with sinners and led an ordinary life. In other words, people always find an excuse not to listen to God often by finding fault with those who speak in his name.
Saturday 16th December: Saturday in the second week of Advent.
We have a reference today to the Prophet Elijah. Like John the Baptist, his job was to allay God’s wrath before the fury broke. Therefore, some regarded John as Elijah coming back again.
Jesus compares John to Elijah. Just as Elijah was not recognised neither would John be. Like Elijah and John, Jesus himself would suffer at the hands of the people.
Leader of the house of Israel,
Who appeared to Moses
in the fire of the burning bush
And gave him the law on Sinai,
Come to redeem us
with an outstretched arm.
Shoot of Jesse,
Who stands as an ensign for the people,
Before whom kings shall shut their mouths,
Whom the gentiles shall seek after,
Come to deliver us.
Delay now no longer.