Second Sunday of Advent, December 5
Advent Is Truly a Season of Inspiring Hope, Peace, Love 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 your attention.
And as you and I look forward to the majesty of the Christmas season and the anniversary of the Birth of the 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 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 to 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 from the Book of the Prophet Baruch. As a messenger and a poet of God, he accompanied the Jewish people into exile and captivity in Babylon. Their exile was due to the fact that they forgot how to act like obedient children. They forgot how to be humble; they forgot how to be pure and holy. For they had turned their lives to idolatry and made sacrificial offerings to demons and false gods.
In the weakness of their human nature, they lost sight of what should have remained first and foremost in their lives – a personal and intimate relationship with their Creator, with the God of their fathers, with the God who nourished and protected them out of Divine Love, shown to their ancestors with great power and awesome signs.
Exile was a form of purification for the Jewish people. And, in time, they began to recognize that Jerusalem was their true city of identity – for them as a nation and as a Chosen People of God – but, due to their exile, it was a city only in memory and prayer.
The Israelites, after having been confronted with their infidelities to the God of their fathers, longed to return to their homeland, while, at the same time, wishing to renew their relationship with the God Who brought their ancestors out of their first exile in Egypt long ago.
What we hear today is a new song from the prophet Baruch. There is hope, and Jerusalem is the center or image of recovery and restoration. This great city, of both memory and prayer, is remembered by those in captivity as beautiful – but, in reality, it is a city reduced to rubble. But in the certainty of its destruction, it is also given a new picture, dressed up with a renewed glory.
God is promising to return His children to their holy city, and, in so doing, He shows them His faithful Love. They have been remembered by their God, and the time of their purification is coming to an end. The way will be made clear for them, for, as we read at the end of our First Reading today, “…God is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory, with his mercy and justice for company.”
He is leading His children to a process of renewing their hearts, so that His Kingdom on Earth may take hold in their lives once again. And just as God was to lead his children out of the darkness of exile, so, too, He extends His hand to each of us, leading and guiding us from the darkness in which we oftentimes find ourselves today.
In spite of the culture of secularism and the materialistic gods which many have made for themselves, there are many of God’s children in our world today 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 daily 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 Philippians, “…the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it…”
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. And it was Paul’s most earnest prayer that, as he writes, “…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 second week of Advent, may 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.
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”.
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 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 the Christ Child, 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 our psalmist, in today’s Responsorial, truly resound and resonate within each and every one of us, “The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad indeed”!
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
- “[John] went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: ‘A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”’” (Luke 3:3-4 ~ Isaiah 40:3)
- “Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on forever the splendor of glory from God…For God will show your splendor to all under the heavens.” (Baruch 5:1, 3)
- “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)
- “For God is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory, with the mercy and justice that are his.” (Baruch 5:9)
- “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 one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6b)
- “And this is my prayer: that 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, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)
- “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)
- “The LORD has done great things for us; Oh, how happy we [are]!” (Psalm 126:3)
Prayer for the Day
“Father in Heaven,Second Sunday of Advent (Roman Breviary)
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.”