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Prepare the way...Maranatha!

Second Sunday of Advent
First Reading: Bar 5:1-9
Response: Ps 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6
Second Reading: Phil 1:4-6, 8-11
Gospel: Lk 3:1-6

The readings early in Advent point to the overturning and the renewal of the whole world. The Scriptures prepare us to pray with the church our Advent prayer, "Come, Lord Jesus," and they bring a promise from our God, that God will bring renewal to God’s people; not just an interior change, but by a transformation of the world.

This is a season of expectation and of hope. It is a time for us to listen again to God's promise of deliverance and reconciliation. It is a time for us to be reassured of His relentless love for each and all of us, and for our planet.

The very first beam of light that announces the coming of the sun is the morning star. At the very beginning of Advent, we welcome the pure light of Mary, who, by her Immaculate Conception, prepares us for the Son who is to come. Already, the saving power of Jesus shines upon the moment of His mother's conception and will not let the darkness of original sin shadow her being. She is "full of grace", filled with the life and holiness of God from the beginning. And she thus becomes a model and promise of the holiness that will be restored to all of us through the life, death and resurrection of her Son.

This is what Advent should mean for us. It is a time for us to be filled with new hope, new courage. It is a time for us to be reassured that the darkness that overshadows the present moment, whether from sin, sickness, poverty, sorrow, weakness or failure, will be dissipated and driven away by the Sun of Justice, the Word-Made-Flesh.

Advent is not a season of false hope. We are not getting ready for some improbable, imagined event that exists only in fantasy. Our hope is based on the assurance that our God is coming. He has, in fact, already come among us in our own flesh. He has, in fact, already loved us beyond death, has overcome sin and evil, and has seeded us with the hope of Eternal Life.

We use these advent days to stir up this hope, to bring the seed to full bloom. We know that the Lord has come...we are certain that the Lord will come. And for us that does not mean waiting in fear and dread for doomsday. We do believe in the second coming of Jesus, and we try to live each day in readiness for that stupendous event. But, much more, we believe in all that Jesus has already accomplished in us, and we see in that a promise, a reason to hope for so much more.... for a deepening of our own faith and love...for power to overcome evil in ourselves and in our world...for the spread of the gospel...for the healing of hatred and the banishment of fear...for peace and justice.

Perhaps we still walk along crooked paths. We might find it much easier to take detours around the Gospel challenges of Christian justice. There are still hills of conflict and valleys of depression on the road we walk. And we find ourselves so busy! There just doesn't seem to be enough time to worship and to pray. Our energies are all used up with work and home and family, and preparations for the Christmas holiday.

But Jesus is waiting, patiently, compassionately. He wants so very much to come into each of our lives - completely and totally. So we try again during these special days of Advent to clear the way for Him.

The central message of our Advent is that the Lord has come, He has taken away the curse of our sins, He has baptized us in the Holy Spirit, He has comforted us; He has come like a good shepherd to gather the lambs in His arms.

But His coming is an ongoing mystery. He needs us and uses us to "make straight His paths." We are called to hasten His coming in our own time and place. We continue to "prepare the way of the Lord." We continue to proclaim the "good news:" Jesus, Emmanuel, God-With-Us, has Come, is Coming and will come!  



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