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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Second Sunday of Advent - Prepare

Second Sunday of Advent
Prepare the Way of the Lord

Today’s message for the second Sunday of Advent is prepare. Are we prepared for the Lord’s coming? If He came for us today, would we be ready?

Our first reading from Isaiah was written to give comfort to the Jewish people who at the time were in exile in Babylon. “A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the Lord. Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God….The rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country a broad valley. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed.” (Isaiah 40:1-5) In this reading Isaiah describes how God would soon lead the Israelites out of exile to Jerusalem. “Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom and leading the ewes with care.” (Isaiah 40:11)

In today’s Gospel we hear the same prophecy from Isaiah linked to John the Baptist, a man who lives on locusts and wild honey in the dessert, who preaches the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins and points to Jesus the Messiah. John proclaims, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths…One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:6-7)

The prophecy from Isaiah and the message of John the Baptist is still applicable. The Lord continues to call each of us to prepare our hearts, to make straight our path, to be open to Him so that we might be ready, prepared and welcome His coming. Is there still time to prepare? Yes, as the second reading of today’s liturgy reminds us, we are living in a time of great mercy and have the opportunity to repent. “The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (II Peter (3:9)

Pope Benedict XVI put it this way, “The style of John the Baptist was meant to call all Christians to choose a sober lifestyle, especially in preparation for the feast of Christmas….John’s appeal goes far beyond and deeper than a call to a sober lifestyle: it is a call for inner change, starting with the recognition and confession of our sins. As we prepare for Christmas, it is important that we find time for self contemplation and carry out an honest assessment of our lives. May we be enlightened by a ray of the light that comes from Bethlehem, the light of He who is "the Greatest" and made himself small, he who is "the Strongest" but became weak.” (Audience & Angelus the Second Sunday of Advent 12/4/2011, Pope Benedict XVI)

The second Sunday of Advent calls us to prepare and make straight our path, by examining our life journey and filling the valley of sin in our hearts with the mercy of God’s healing grace. The Lord has no limit to what he wants to give to us, it is us who put the limits on those gifts. God truly thirsts for us. He longs to gather us in his arms, carry us in his bosom and lead us with care.

Tonight light the second candle of your advent wreath then,
“Prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight His paths.” (Mark 1:3)

For items related to the Catholic Church
please visit Lynn’s Timeless Treasures
John the Baptist – Titian
Preaching of John the Baptist – Domenico Ghirlandaio
John the Baptist with Child Jesus – Murillo

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