A Homily – The Second Sunday of Advent (Year B)

First Reading – Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 84(85): 9-14(Advent) ©

Second Reading – 2 Peter 3:8-14 ©

Gospel Acclamation Luke 3:4, 6

The Gospel According to Mark 1:1 – 8 ©

(NJB)

The Second Sunday of Advent (Year B)

Consider the words of the prophet:

There is great hope expressed by Isaiah, a profound hope for the future wellness of all people,

As seen through his understanding of our common destiny as children of God, the creator of the universe. The prophet expresses certainty in regard to the expectation of atonement, not just for the people of Israel or the children of Judah, but for all people.

Be mindful!

This teaching serves as the principle foundation of the early church, and the whole of Christian faith accordingly.

John the Baptist, stood in the tradition of Isiah, his was a voice crying out in the wilderness; he called the faithful to action, instructing them to prepare the way. His was a voice of expectation instructing the faithful that the entire creation will bend to the will of God; every valley and every mountain, from the cliffs to the plains, everything will yield to God.

Furthermore, we are instructed to believe that despite the omnipotence of God, we are to regard the creator like a shepherd who feeds the flock, like a mother ewe among her children, not as a lord or a king or a general leading armies.

To be clear: Isaiah also speaks of God as the punisher, reminding the people of Judah of the punishment they have suffered for their crimes and of future punishments to come if they persist in their sinful ways.

Remember this, their crimes were crimes against the people, their crimes took place in the world. They made enemies among foreign powers and they suffered on account of their wickedness and vanity, and broken promises. They were not punished by God. The justice they encountered was the justice of human beings. It was harsh, it was painful, many people were slaughtered, many more were taken into captivity, but this was not the work of God, the creator; we know this  because God does not intervene in the affairs of the world.

In the midst of all the that the children of Israel and the people of Judah suffered came Isaiah, whose voice cried out in the wilderness, then came John followed by Jesus hundreds of years later, reminding the people that God is with them still, and that in the end all things will be resolved in love.

Listen!

God is the creator of the entire universe, everything belongs to God; all lands, all seas, all planets, all stars, all galaxies; everything and everyone that is in them.

You should know that God did not end the captivity of the children of Israel, they did.

This is not hubris.

It is greater hubris to think that God loves a special people, one tribe above all others, it is much greater to think that than to think that the Israelites escaped bondage under their own power.

Know this!

God is never angry or indignant with the people,  neither does God rescue us from our plights or the miseries of the world; that is for us to do for ourselves, it is for us to do for each other.

Bear witness to Peter’s struggle.

His mission was to call people to holiness and to a just way of life. He spoke about the fruits of such a life and the reasonable expectation that if you live a good life good things will come to you…though if truth be told there is no guarantee of that.

Peter knew this.

Treating all people with goodness and mercy, telling the truth as best as you understand it, in no way does doing these things guarantee that you will be treated the same. Therefore we may understand that the divine promise is not that you will experience justice and mercy in this world, but that there will be justice and mercy in the next.

Peter had been preaching on this and the return of Jesus for many years, believing that the Church would usher in the new world of justice and grace, but two thousand years has gone by and it has not happened, not yet.

You should know that there are many people preaching the same message, not for the good of others but for their own enrichment, as the years and decades and centuries and millennia pass, the teaching on Christian hope has become elongated elongated, the expectation is no longer that you will receive justice in this life with the return of Jesus, but in eternity.

Be mindful!

God will bring the world to an end only when God’s purpose for the world has been fulfilled. Trust that God is loving and God is patient, and it is God’s desire to save everyone. It is God’s desire to leave no one behind, and that is the true foundation of Christian faith, in keeping with the tradition of Isaiah.

Read your histories. Though it has had a mixed record of success the Christian tradition has always attempted to root itself in historical realities.

The study of the Christian tradition gave birth to modern historical and literary criticism, without which, as a culture, we would have no understanding of the uses and limitations of history whatsoever.

Appreciate the fact that this took eighteen hundred years to develop.

Our narrative concerning the life and mission, the arrest and killing of Jesus are a part of the testimony of our faith. These stories helps us to locate in time the singular moment when our cultural commitment to the teachings of Jesus took place.

Through the liturgy we remember the rule of Tiberius, heir to Augustus, the Herodian dynasty and Pontius Pilate. We recall the role that Pilate played in killing of Jesus, we shout it out at every hour of every day in all parts of the world; that Jesus suffered under his hand, was crucified and buried. This story is told unceasingly and without end.

Be mindful!

It is long since time that we, as heirs to the ministry and teaching of Jesus, forgive Pilate for the role he played in that political murder.

John the Baptist taught us to repent and be forgiven, but Jesus taught us to simply forgive. He forgave those who killed him even as they were torturing him; and he asked God to forgive them when he was up on the cross breathing his last painful breaths. It is time we followed his example and did the same. The promise of Isaiah, which John echoed in the wilderness cannot be received by us unless and until we do.

Know this!

God is the author of our salvation but we are the agents of it, and it is incumbent on us to proceed with the healing, if the human race is to be healed.

Consider the Gospel reading for today:

Isaiah did not predict the coming of John and Jesus. We know that this is true, because we believe that God, the creator of the universe, created us in freedom, and nothing in the world is pre-determined.

Isaiah’s movement took place over the course of a decade or more, its followers and proponents witnessed the collapse of David’s kingdom and the scattering of the Israel into the remote reaches of the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires.

Neither did John the Baptist predict the coming of Jesus, though he may have expressed the hope that someone like Jesus would come after him and continue his work.

In the time of John and Jesus the people of Judah and the children of Israel were in much the same place as they had been six hundred years earlier. They had rebuilt their cities, re-dug their wells and constructed a new temple in the land of their forebears, but they were still divided among themselves, factionalized and politically weak. They were still subject to foreign powers, and still subject to the capriciousness of kings.

John saw his death coming because he understood the political temper of the men and women in power in his day, like Jesus who came after him he accepted that death rather than risk the lives of his followers in a vain attempt to forestall the inevitable.

First Reading – Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11 ©

The Glory of the Lord Shall be Revealed and All Mankind Shall See It

‘Console my people, console them’ says your God.

‘Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and call to her that her time of service is ended, that her sin is atoned for, that she has received from the hand of the Lord double punishment for all her crimes.’

A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the wilderness a way for the Lord.

Make a straight highway for our God across the desert.

Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low.

Let every cliff become a plain, and the ridges a valley; then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all mankind shall see it; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’

Go up on a high mountain, joyful messenger to Zion.

Shout with a loud voice, joyful messenger to Jerusalem.

Shout without fear, say to the towns of Judah, ‘Here is your God.’

Here is the Lord coming with power, his arm subduing all things to him.

The prize of his victory is with him, his trophies all go before him.

He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms, holding them against his breast and leading to their rest the mother ewes.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 84(85): 9-14(Advent) ©

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

I will hear what the Lord God has to say,

  a voice that speaks of peace,

  peace for his people.

His help is near for those who fear him

  and his glory will dwell in our land.

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

Mercy and faithfulness have met;

  justice and peace have embraced.

Faithfulness shall spring from the earth

  and justice look down from heaven.

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

The Lord will make us prosper

  and our earth shall yield its fruit.

Justice shall march before him

  and peace shall follow his steps.

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

Second Reading – 2 Peter 3:8-14 ©

We Are Waiting for the New Heavens and the New Earth

There is one thing, my friends, that you must never forget: that with the Lord, ‘a day’ can mean a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord is not being slow to carry out his promises, as anybody else might be called slow; but he is being patient with you all, wanting nobody to be lost and everybody to be brought to change his ways. The Day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then with a roar the sky will vanish, the elements will catch fire and fall apart, the earth and all that it contains will be burnt up.

Since everything is coming to an end like this, you should be living holy and saintly lives while you wait and long for the Day of God to come, when the sky will dissolve in flames and the elements melt in the heat. What we are waiting for is what he promised: the new heavens and new earth, the place where righteousness will be at home. So then, my friends, while you are waiting, do your best to live lives without spot or stain so that he will find you at peace.

Gospel Acclamation Luke 3:4, 6

Alleluia, alleluia!

Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight, and all mankind shall see the salvation of God.

Alleluia!

The Gospel According to Mark 1:1 – 8 ©

A Voice Cries in the Wilderness: Prepare a Way for the Lord

The beginning of the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is written in the book of the prophet Isaiah:

“Look, I am going to send my messenger before you; he will prepare your way.

A voice cries in the wilderness:

Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.”

And so it was that John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. All Judaea and all the people of Jerusalem made their way to him, and as they were baptised by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins. John wore a garment of camel-skin, and he lived on locusts and wild honey. In the course of his preaching he said, ‘Someone is following me, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals. I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.’

The Second Sunday of Advent (Year B)

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