FEASTING ON THE WORD
"If you meditate on the Scriptures it will appear to you in its brilliant splendor." ―St. Pio of Pietrelcina
Second Sunday of Advent (B)
Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11 | Psalm 85:9-10-11-12, 13-14 | 2 Peter 3:8-14 | Mark 1:1-8
The message for the Second Sunday of Advent is that we should prepare for the Advent of the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus is coming and we must make straight his paths. He is not reluctant to come, but giving us a chance to reconsider our lives. Finally, He urges us to come home to Him.
The Second Sunday of Advent conveys the imperative to ready ourselves for the arrival of the Lord Jesus. The message emphasizes that the Lord is on His way, and it is crucial to make straight our crooked paths. His delay is not a sign of reluctance; rather, it provides an opportunity for us to reflect on and reevaluate our lives. Ultimately, there is a heartfelt urging for us to return to Him and find our home in His presence.
There was an elderly priest who became frustrated with parishioners repeatedly confessing to adultery. One Sunday, he declared from the pulpit that he would quit if he heard one more confession of adultery. To resolve the issue, the community devised a code word. Those who had committed adultery would claim to have "stumbled on a crooked road," and this arrangement seemed to satisfy the old priest. Things proceeded smoothly until the elderly priest passed away. A week after the arrival of the new priest, he expressed concern to the town's mayor about the condition of the roads and sidewalks, as people in the confessional kept mentioning having "stumbled on a crooked road." Amused, the mayor realized the new priest was unaware of the code word. Before he could explain, the priest, pointing an accusing finger, told the mayor, "I don’t know what you’re laughing about. You must do something about the roads and sidewalks. Your wife stumbled three times this week."
In our first reading from the book of Isaiah, we learn that the Babylonian forces have triumphed over the Israelites, taking them captive to a foreign land. The Israelites' homeland has been seized by others, and their sacred temple lies in ruins. Importantly, it is emphasized that God is not the architect of their misfortune; rather, the Israelites have brought this exile upon themselves due to their own sins. Exile takes us to the wilderness. In the wilderness, the mountains are high, the valleys are low, and the ground is rough and uneven. During Advent, the impending arrival of the Lord Jesus is highlighted, and there is a call to prepare the way for Him. This preparation involves clearing a direct path for the Lord by removing any obstacles hindering His coming. The analogy extends to our personal lives and societal structures, urging the straightening of all crooked paths. Every hindrance in our lives and communities must be addressed. Every mountain and hill should be brought low, and every valley be lifted up.
Many years ago Joseph, a Cebu-based businessman dad, had to leave his home to go on a long journey. Just before he left, Kobi, his little three-year old daughter asked him, `Daddy, when will you be coming back again?' Now Joseph knew that he would not be back till the end of May. However, he realized that it was no use talking about dates and times and seasons to his girl, for she would not know the difference between them. Sitting down beside her, the father said to the girl, `Now, listen; when you see the leaves on the trees turning red and brown and beginning to fall to the ground, then you can be sure that Daddy is coming back very soon.' The next day the father left home. During the months of March and April the little girl would go for walks with her mom. On these walks she used to talk about her absent daddy. Slowly the weeks went by until it came early April and then mid-April. Although the girl did not notice it, the leaves on the trees were changing color. Then one night there was a big wind storm and thousands of leaves came down, filling the sidewalks and the gutters. The next morning when the little girl went out, she immediately saw them. Letting go of her mom's hand, she went amongst the leaves and began to kick them sky-high. Then she began to shout, 'Yahoo! Yahoo! Daddy's coming soon.' All over the world there is an expectation; the leaves are turning brown and they are beginning to fall. Jesus said, 'When you see these things begin to come to pass'—be very gloomy? No, chins up—`Lift up your heads.' The great future of every child of God may be dawning, for the coming of the Lord is drawing near.
In his second letter, the apostle Peter clarifies that the delay in the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus is not a sign of His reluctance but a gracious extension of time, allowing more people to reconsider their lives and prepare for His arrival. Peter's intention is to address concerns that have arisen due to the passage of time since the Apostle Paul first announced Jesus' imminent return. He seeks to reassure those who might be anxious about the apparent delay, emphasizing that Jesus will indeed return. Considering the approaching day of the Lord, Peter urges believers to lead lives characterized by holiness and godliness. The anticipation of a new heavens and a new earth should serve as a motivating force, prompting believers to be diligent in their pursuit of a life free from blame and filled with peace. The call is to live in such a way that one is found without spot or blemish, embodying a commitment to righteousness and peace.
Kevin constantly quarreled with Romeo, his father. Finally, he left home without saying goodbye. He continued to keep in touch with his mom Amelia but cut connections with his dad. After a few years, he wanted to come home for Christmas very badly. But he was afraid his dad would not allow it. His mom texted him and urged him to come home. Inside, he felt he couldn’t do that until he knew his father had forgiven him. They texted back and forth a few times about it. Finally, there wasn’t time for any more text messages. Amelia said she would talk to Romeo. If he had forgiven Kevin, she would tie a rose-colored ribbon on the tree right next to the railroad tracks in their back yard in San Andres, Manila. Kevin would be able to see the tree before the train reached San Andres Bukid station. If there were no ribbon, he would go on and not stop. Kevin started for home. As the train got close to his home, he became so nervous he couldn’t look out the window. So he said to his friend who was sitting next to him, “I can't bear to look. Would you sit in my place and look out the window for that big tree in my back yard next to the tracks. Tell me if there is a ribbon on it or not.” So his friend traded places with him and looked out the window. After awhile the friend said, “Oh, I see the tree.” Kevin asked, “Is there a rose-colored ribbon tied to it?” For a moment, his friend didn’t say anything. Then he turned, and in a soft voice said, “There is a rose-colored ribbon tied to every branch of the tree.”
The Gospel reading from Mark recounts the ministry of John the Baptist. He is the voice crying out as foretold by Isaiah. Mark writes, “John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins.” When John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness proclaiming a baptism of repentance, he was echoing Isaiah’s words. “It is time to come home.” Repentance prepares the way of the Lord. It prepares the way home.
Jeff Jacinto, PhD, DHum