ARE YOU PREPARED TO MEET CHRIST?
First Reading: Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11
Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 84(85):9-14
Second reading: 2 Peter 3:8-14
Gospel Reading: Mark 1:1-8
This second Sunday of Advent is characterized by intense preparation. To grasp the significance of this preparedness, let’s reflect on the meticulous arrangements we undertake when anticipating a distinguished guest or dear friend in our homes. There is a flurry of activity—cleaning, organizing, and the pleasant fragrance of air fresheners filling the space. This attention to detail is not just a social gesture but a tangible expression of our yearning and eagerness to extend hospitality to someone extraordinary.
Advent, too, unfolds with a twofold character, urging us to get ready for the commemoration of Jesus’ birth at Christmas—a historical event. Simultaneously, it is a season of preparing for His Parousia – the culmination of time when Jesus will return in glory. The readings for this Sunday guide us in comprehending the significance of this preparation.
The First Reading (Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11) is taken from the beginning of the second part of the book of Isaiah, known as Deutero-Isaiah. Following the first part of Isaiah (chapters 1-39), which narrates the infidelity of the Jews leading to their captivity and exile into Babylon, under King Nebuchadnezzar II, who conquered Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple, and deported many Jews to Babylon. The second part (chapters 40-55) was written during the Babylonian exile. During this period of exile, the prophet Isaiah, or possibly a group of prophets and scribes schooled in the tradition of Isaiah, delivered messages of hope, comfort, and encouragement to the Jew. These chapters express a tone of consolation, proclaiming God’s intention to bring about redemption and restoration for the people of Israel. In today’s First Reading, the Prophet Isaiah emphasizes the necessity of preparing the way for the Lord and making His paths straight. This preparation is pertinent as their liberation from exile will see God leading the way for them. God’s guidance will take them to Judah, within Judah to the city of Jerusalem, and within Jerusalem to Zion, the hill where their Temple once stood. A striking truth remains – despite the impending liberation from exile, there remains a need for active collaboration to pave the way for the Lord; and this reminds us of St. Augustine’s wisdom: “The Lord who made you without your consent cannot save you without your cooperation.”
While it is true that Isaiah made this prophecy in the 6th century BC and was subsequently fulfilled with the conquest of Babylon by Persia, allowing those exiled from Judah to return home as God guided the exiles back from Babylon; yet, on a deeper level, these words prophesied the advent of Jesus. Isaiah’s proclamation of the “voice crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths,'” anticipated the coming of John the Baptist, which we hear in today’s Gospel Reading (cf. Mark 1:1-8). John the Baptist was a quintessential figure proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Mark, in quoting Prophet Isaiah (in today’s first reading), emphasizes the role of preparation, resounding the prophet’s call for the levelling of valleys and the smoothing of rough terrain. John’s clarion call to repentance echoes Isaiah’s message, emphasizing the spiritual groundwork necessary for the coming of Christ.
Similarly, the Second Reading from 2 Peter (3:8-14) underscores the urgency of our preparation. The passage highlights God’s timeless nature—’a day’ equals a thousand years, and vice versa. God’s patience desires everyone to change their ways, not reluctance. Our preparation, therefore, should transcend the material aspects that often preoccupy us during this season. While food, clothing, and other worldly preparations are to be done moderately, the essence lies in spiritual readiness.
Dear friends in Christ, during this Advent season, focus your preparation on embracing the Sacraments, particularly reconciliation/confession and the Holy Eucharist. Just as God tenderly guided the exiles, let us allow Him to navigate our spiritual journey, clearing the path for Christ’s presence in our hearts. As we approach today’s liturgy for the Holy Eucharist, we open ourselves to receive Christ—not only celebrating His historical birth but eagerly anticipating His glorious return. May this Advent be a period of profound spiritual reflection and readiness, transforming our hearts into a warm dwelling for the Lord, who comes to us at Christmas and will return on the last day. Amen.
© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Loreto, Vila Medeiros, São Paulo, Brazil
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Have you prayed your rosary today?