Homily (Reflection) for the Second Sunday of Advent, (B) (10th December, 2017) on the Gospel
Is 40:1-5.9-11;Ps 84:9-14 (R. v.8);
Topic: Prepare for the Lord, cf. Mk 1:3.
In our homily for the first Sunday of Advent (B), we considered the meaning of Advent and also reflected on the life of Christians as the life of Advent. John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus Christ in today’s gospel calls for the preparation for the Lord’s coming. Although many have seen a good number of Advent seasons, I would like us to reflect on the preparation for Christ’s coming. This is to avoid the danger of allowing this season pass without any impact on individual lives.
John in today’s gospel began his ministry by proclaiming “… a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mk.1:4) as prophesied by Isaiah, cf. Is 40:3. This clarion call brought “people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem” (Mk 1:5).
We recall that Advent is a time of preparation both for the anniversary of Christ’s first coming and also for his second coming. We read from the gospel:
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins (Mk 1:4-5).
Although we are called to prepare for the Lord, who do we actually prepare for during the season of Advent – ourselves or the Lord? It is very easy for one to say that he/she is preparing for the Lord but do we really prepare for the Lord? For instance, the preparation for Christmas witnesses more activities in so many areas like trying to have a better place to live in, good cars to drive around with, better clothes, shoes, jewelleries, assorted makeup amongst others to put on, good hairstyles, money to spend, and so many other things that we struggle to accomplish before Christmas especially during Advent season. These externalities are not bad in themselves but John the Baptist’s proclamation did not lead people sought for them rather it made people sought for the spiritual (real and profitable) things – baptism and confession of sins.
Considering the reaction of the people who heard the proclamation of John the Baptist in preparation for the first coming of Jesus Christ, as we prepare for both the anniversary of Jesus’ first coming and also await his second coming, do we consider baptism and confession and other sacraments important? Struggling to complete building projects, buy new cars, articles of clothing, and so on, for what use will all these be for Jesus? As we have noted, these things are not bad in themselves but they can be snares against preparing for the Lord.
At His first coming, Christ was born in a manger, cf. Lk 2:12. But now he desires to be born in our lives. Hence He said: “...If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (Jn 14:23). Again in the book of Revelation we read: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:20). And in Acts of the Apostles we also read: “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man” (Acts 17:24). And again in Saint Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians we also read: “... The body is ... for the Lord, and the Lord for the body” (1Cor 6:13). So the preparation for the Lord ought to be done in our lives. We do this by repenting because answering Christian names is not enough to say that we have repented. This conversion is very important. Hence Jesus also began his public ministry by calling us to repentance, cf. Mk 1:15.
We go back to God by making good confession of our sins. However, making a good confession reminds me of the story of a man who while confessing his sins first said he stole two times but later changed it to five times. When the priest asked the man how many times he actually stole, the man said that he has stolen twice since his last confession and had also planned to steal three more times in near future. Hence the number five was to cover both the ones he has stolen and the ones he had also planned to steal. For one to make a good confession of sins he or she must be sincere otherwise, he or she makes mockery of the sacrament thereby going back worse than he/she was. And again, there must be either perfect or imperfect contrition.
Dear friends in the Lord, prepare for the Lord and not for yourself by looking at your life. Just as we are made-up of body and soul (spirit), preparation for Christmas must also be two sided – bodily (external) as well as spiritual (internal) but greater attention must be paid to the spiritual preparation. His first coming was at the manger, now he intends to be born in our hearts. To enjoy the fullness of the Christmas, we must take the two sides of it serious. This will lead us to benefit from the Christmas as we should – materially and spiritually.
Bible Reading: Matt 4:12-17; 7:21-29; Acts 2:37-42; Rev. 2:5.
Thought for today: Do you know that an important visitor is patiently waiting at the door of your soul?
Let us pray: Lord, help us to prepare well for your coming. May this feast bring peace and joy of mind and body to our lives and among ourselves. We ask this through Christ our Lord – Amen.
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