Second Sunday of Advent, December 8
Advent Is Truly a Season of Inspiring Hope and Joyful Expectation, in Which We Are Called to Reflect upon All That Is Truly Important in Our Lives.
Many, many years ago, I remember seeing a movie called “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” It was produced around 1965, and the character of John the Baptist was played by Charlton Heston. Notwithstanding the role of Jesus played by Max Von Sydow, the critics reported that Heston’s portrayal of the Baptist was one which “walked away” with the film.
His portrayal of “A voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord…’” was truly one which caught the viewer’s attention!
And as you and I look forward to the majesty of this Christmas season and the anniversary of the Birth of the Holy Christ Child, the Eternal Word made flesh who came to us as an Infant born in the humblest of surroundings, it is the message of the Baptist in today’s Gospel which still resonates within the hearts of God-fearing people everywhere, for we are each called to open our hearts to “Prepare the way of the Lord” – to receive the Kingdom of God within ourselves.
And throughout the course of human history and God’s relationship with His children as recorded in the Old Testament, the chosen people of God constantly struggled in their understanding of their Creator and in the relationship which they were called to live with Him.
And in this struggle, they had faced some marvelous highs; but there were times when they also experienced some very severe lows.
Our Readings today begin with the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. As a messenger of God, Isaiah was offering to the Jewish people a vision of a Kingdom that would be open to all peoples of every nation, a Kingdom that would one day fill them with an endless joy and an indescribable peace.
God was promising them through His prophet that, in the fullness of this Kingdom, all war, all dissension and conflict would cease to exist, and that true justice and peace would reign forever, that all creation would be “… filled with knowledge of the LORD” – for God’s “dwelling shall be glorious.”
The period of darkness and conflict in which we are now living will one day end, and the God of Mercy will extend His hand to each of us, His faithful disciples, leading and guiding us from the shadows in which we live our lives today, into a Kingdom filled with His Light and His Love!
In spite of all the unrest we currently witness in our world, in spite of the very vocal minority which makes living our faith openly more difficult in different parts of society, and in spite of the culture of secularism and the materialistic gods which people have made for themselves, there are many of God’s children throughout the world who truly hunger to know Him better. There are many who truly hunger for His Truth, who long to feel His Love and guiding Hand in their lives.
The voices of secularism and relativistic thinking continuously try to drown out the true Voice of selfless Love and Divine Truth, God Himself. But when our hearts are opened to receiving what God truly has to offer us, then, as Saint Paul writes in his Letter to the Romans, God will grant to us the grace to live and “…to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus…”
Even in Paul’s day, there were false prophets who would attempt to undermine all that Paul and his disciples were trying to accomplish in teaching the faith to the early Christian communities, so that they may live their new-found faith in the Light of God’s Loving Presence. And it was Paul’s most earnest prayer that, as he writes in his Letter to the Philippians, “…your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.”
As we continue our journey of faith in this season of Advent, we continue to prepare our hearts for the coming of God’s Kingdom to take hold within us in a more complete and a more profound way. For the faithful Christian, Advent becomes a season during which we are called to reflect upon all that is truly important in our lives. Yet, as we well know, there are segments of the world’s culture which wish to deny the true meaning and spirit of Christmas.
In the darkened spirit of political correctness, many stores and commercial outlets have removed the word Christ or Christmas from all their advertising literature. Christmas trees are now Holiday trees or trees of illumination. And there have been numerous articles written in various magazines and newspapers about what is referred to as the war on Christmas by an ever-present and ever-growing atheistic relativism!
But, as faithful Christians, we know that God is ALWAYS present in our midst, that He is not some distant God who has left us alone. And we know how this battle against Jesus Christ and His Love for us will ultimately end. We have the end of the story already written for us. We are only waiting for the final act to play itself out!
For each of us today, Advent becomes a season which gives us an inspiring hope. It is a season of joyful expectation, for God Himself became intimately involved with man’s salvation when, in the Person of the Eternal Word, He took upon Himself our flesh – our human nature, and was born into the world which He created.
In all the preparations we make in honoring and celebrating our Lord’s Nativity, Christmas is not about receiving gifts or participating in parties, though all these things are wonderful in their proper place. Christmas is about the Holy Birth of Jesus Christ, who brings meaning and hope to a world that needs redemption.
In Him, and only in Him, do we realize our true and lasting hope. And it is only when we open our hearts to all that He offers to each of us wherein we find the Kingdom of God residing within us, guiding us in our acts of selfless love for one another.
Each one of us is called to “Prepare the way of the Lord” in our own hearts. Each one of us is called to “make straight his paths” in the life we live daily on this side of Heaven.
In the midst of a world in which we find the moral compass of society wavering, in the midst of a culture in which the ideal of selfless giving of love oftentimes gives way to personal greed and selfishness, in the midst of a society wherein faithfulness and fidelity is sadly found wanting in many of God’s children – we find within this season, for the true Christian at heart, a time of preparation – the knowledge that True Love, Divine Love itself, has never abandoned us, that the God of our fathers has never forsaken us, and, in a most profound and intimate way, remains with us always!
As we prepare our hearts during this season of expectation and hope, may the words of the antiphon in today’s Responsorial Psalm truly fill us with tranquility and joy, “Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever”!
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “All you peoples, clap your hands; shout to God with joyful cries. For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared, the great king over all the earth.” (Psalm 47:2-3)
- “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” (Matthew 3:3c)
- “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:31-33)
- “In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79)
- “The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.’” (Luke 2:9-11)
- “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus, that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:5-6)
- “And this is my prayer: your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.” (Philippians 1:9-10)
- “Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who alone does wonderful deeds. Blessed be his glorious name forever; may he fill all the earth with his glory. Amen and amen.” (Psalm 72:18-19)
Prayer for the Day
“Father in Heaven,
the day draws near when the glory of Your Son
will make radiant the night of the waiting world.
“May the lure of greed not impede us from the joy
which moves the hearts of those who seek Him.
“May the darkness not blind us
to the vision of Wisdom
which fills the minds of those who find Him.
“We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.” cf. Second Sunday of Advent (Roman Breviary)