Second Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11 | 2 Peter 3:8-14 | Mark 1:1-8
Prepare the Way
Advent, the first liturgical season of each new Church year, provides an opportunity, if we choose to accept it, to pause from the frenetic pace that often characterizes our lives in the pre-Christmas season and take time to reflect on the amazing gift that God has given us in Jesus.
Unfortunately, Advent seems to pass more quickly each year, and we can fail to take full advantage of it. This year, it will end even sooner than in other years. The fourth Sunday of Advent is Christmas Eve, depriving us of a fourth week of Advent. For some of us, this may add to the stress of preparing for the Christmas holiday rather than the Christmas holyday.
The scriptures for this second Sunday of Advent can help re-focus us on the meaning and purpose of this season and on how it can enrich our lives. At the beginning of his gospel, Mark quotes the words of Isaiah from the first reading, “Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; He will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”
Isaiah’s prophecy describes the return of the exiles to Jerusalem from their captivity in Babylon. It is God who leads them and makes the return easy. In the gospel, Mark applies Isaiah’s words to the coming of Jesus and to John the Baptist, the messenger who prepares the way for him.
John did this by calling the people to repent and by baptizing with water all who acknowledged their sins. His ministry served as a prelude to the ministry of Jesus, who would baptize with the Holy Spirit. In pointing the way to Christ, John, in all humility, acknowledged, “One greater than I is coming after me. I am not worthy even to loosen his sandal straps.”
This Advent we are preparing to welcome Christ into what has become a very divided and troubled world, a world much in need of the coming of the Prince of Peace. Today’s readings can help us reflect on that need and on what we might do to prepare the way for Christ to enter into our lives and the lives of others this Christmas.
Hopefully, you will find some quiet time during this coming week to think about that. If you can, these questions may assist your reflection.
• What obstacles do I need to remove from my life? What rough places
in my heart need smoothing to allow me to welcome Christ?
• How can I prepare a path so that God may work in others through me?
• Am I willing to be a messenger of peace for someone: a family member
or friend who has lost faith in the Church; a recent immigrant trying to
make a new life here; or the person who is discriminated against because
of their lifestyle, race, religion, or political views?
• How might I be that messenger in spite of any obstacles I encounter?
May your prayer and reflection be fruitful and lead you to prepare the way so that you and others can encounter Christ anew this Christmas.
Blessings on your second week of Advent.
Sr. Michaela Connolly, OP