2nd Sunday of Advent-Cycle C-2018
FIRST READING Baruch 5:1-9
Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever: wrapped in the cloak of justice from God, bear on your head the miter that displays the glory of the eternal name. For God will show all the earth your splendor: you will be named by God forever the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship. Up, Jerusalem! Stand upon the heights; look to the east and see your children gathered from the east and the west at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that they are remembered by God. Led away on foot by their enemies they left you: but God will bring them back to you borne aloft in glory as on royal thrones. For God has commanded that every lofty mountain be made low, and that the age-old depths and gorges be filled to level ground, that Israel may advance secure in the glory of God. The forests and every fragrant kind of tree have overshadowed Israel at God’s command; for God is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory, with his mercy and justice for company.
SECOND READING Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11
Brothers and sisters: I pray always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
GOSPEL Luke 3:1-6
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert. John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
My sisters and brothers in Christ,
How many times in your life have you ever desired to be called? Maybe you waited upon a favorable response after a hopeful job interview? Perhaps you have auditioned for a play or school musical or tried out for an athletic team, and you waited on pins and needles for that affirming call from a director or coach, “You’re in!” What excitement you felt when you received the call from someone who affirmed your worth!
This Sunday, too, is moment of joy and gladness. You are invited to receive a wonderful call. Advent is about the coming of Jesus as our Savior. He calls to us and reaches out to us, down to us, drawing us closer to Himself. Advent invites us to prepare ourselves to hear the glorious call and for the world to receive the Savior.
The Prophet Baruch reminds us that God is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory, with his mercy and justice for company. Probably it is difficult for us to sense this message in our hearts. We are Israel, you and I. God is calling us to follow Him, in joy by the light of His glory. We can only know this by faith in the Lord. We Christians are invited to answer His call through belief in Jesus and to believe that Jesus has come for the salvation of the world through His Advent.
Our faith in the call, Christ’s coming into the world, and that it has changed the world is challenged daily. Through news channels, the internet, and social media we absorb sometimes horrid news about pain, suffering and death and we wonder — where is God? Abject poverty, terrorism, hate crimes, and abuses of all forms shake our faith. We persevere in His Advent, our faith hard-wearing. Despite these terrible setbacks and disappointments and losses, early Christians acknowledged, and modern day Christians reaffirm, His call to the light of His Glory.
Saint Paul in his Letter to the Philippians acknowledges his confidence in the Advent glory working through those who believe in Christ. He who began a good work in us will continue to complete it until the day of His return. We are called to live in that same faith, with complete confidence.
The Gospel today from Saint Luke puts the figure of John the Baptist in front of us. John calls us to repent and await the coming Messiah. Like John, you and I are called to be a “voice crying in the wilderness,” calling out that God is present and that God is here for the salvation of the world. We should be able to proclaim from the depth of our hearts: all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
My sisters and brothers, we are called to be witnesses that God has touched our lives and has come expressly for the salvation of our world. The call of salvation is here in our midst. Let us live in faith and confidence: God will complete His work. And, let us live our lives in this Advent season, and beyond, in a way as to more fruitfully receive His call.