2nd Sunday in Advent, Year B
Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
Psalm 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14
2 Peter 3:8-14
December 10, 2017
We continue our Advent season this week. You might remember that the word “Advent” means coming. As such, I spoke last week of how our Church calls us to think about both the first and second of Christ during this season. Today’s readings refer to both.
Our gospel reading comes from the very beginning of Mark’s gospel. Mark was the first gospel to be written. As such, it is brief and to the point. These eight verses we hear today are the entirety of what Mark tells us before Jesus begins his ministry.
While brief, Mark wants to connect what happens with Jesus to the Israelite past and the prophecies. So, in these few verses, he refers back to what Isaiah prophesized about a messenger that will come before the Messiah to “prepare the way of the Lord” and to call the people to “make straight” their paths. John the Baptist calls the people to repentance and points them to Jesus as “one mightier than” he.
We know the date in which we celebrate Jesus’ birth (December 25th). It is the same date every year. We know the date and we plan for it.
Many people do better with deadlines. We are better motivated when we know the date for something is near. While we know the date of Christmas, we must realize that the Jews, while very much expecting a messiah, had no idea what date the Messiah would come. They began “lazy” in their waiting and many fell away from the Lord.
We shouldn’t be surprised by this. Many have come to do the same thing when it comes to the Second Coming of Jesus. It hasn’t come for 2,000 years so we don’t worry. We don’t get ready.
In today’s second reading, Peter speaks of the Second Coming when he says, “the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” Jesus will come at an unknown hour. We should be ready.
Some might ask why Jesus hasn’t come. It’s been two thousand years. Why so long? Peter gives an answer. First, we must remember that God does not operate under the confines of time that we do. For the Lord, a thousand years are like a day.
More importantly, the Lord is patient. The Lord delays his coming to give us every chance possible to repent.
We might think then we have nothing to worry about. We have all the time in the world but we don’t. As I have said before in other homilies, while the second coming hasn’t happened, many people have come and died. We need to be ready.
The first coming gives us hope. Hope that is so needed. Isaiah writes as a prophet of the Lord in a time when the Babylonian Exile is about to come to an end. He tells Israel “that her service is at an end.” Isaiah speaks of giving comfort and speaking tenderly.
Isaiah calls them to “prepare the way of the LORD!” This is a call to the Israelites in Isaiah’s day but it is also a call on a much bigger level for the coming of Jesus.
Isaiah goes on to speak about how, “Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low, the rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley.”
In his coming, God is going to level the playing field. We see it some in Jesus’ first coming when the gospels speak of how the Lord will fill the hungry with good things while “the rich he has sent away empty” (Luke 1:53).
It is not that God wants to take away earthly riches. God does not hate the rich. God just has a different focus. We might spend much time trying to “get ahead” or to be the best in this world. What does it gain us?
In Heaven, everything is equal. Just as Isaiah speaks of filling in the valleys and cutting down the mountains, we are all on the same level before God.
So, what does this say for the priorities we have in our lives? We need food to eat but how much effort do we put towards gourmet meals and having more that we need. I know eat too much but I like to think I don’t build my life around it.
We need a place to live. We need cars to drive but do we buy expensive houses and cars to show off or do we just focus on what we need?
What about time? We can lead very busy lives. There’s work. There’s family. There’s fun. Where is God in all of this? What comes first?
God knows we need to work to provide for our families. Is that the only thing that drives us at work or do we try to help others?
God wants us to provide and care for our families but where is God in this?
We make time for many things. Do we make time for God? What we choose over God says something about what is most important to us.
In this season of Advent when we think about the coming of Christ, how important is it to you to have Christ come into your lives not just at Christmas or in the life to come but every day?