2nd Sunday of Advent [B] 2017

2nd Sunday of Advent [B] 2017
Is. 40:1-5, 9-11; 2 Pet. 3:8-14; Mk. 1:1-8

A school principal called the house of one of his teachers to find out why he was not in the school. He was greeted by a small child who whispered: “hello?” “Is your Daddy home?” asked the principal.

“Yes,” answered the whispering child. “May I talk with him?” the principal asked. “No,” replied the small voice. “Is your mommy there?” the principal asked.

“Yes” came the answer. May I talk with her?” Again the small voice whispered, “No.” “All right,” said the principal “Is there any one besides you?” “Yes,” whispered the child, “A policeman.”

“A policeman? Now, may I speak with the policeman?” “No, he is busy,” whispered the child. “Busy doing what?” asked the principal.

“Talking to Daddy and Mommy and the fireman,” came the child’s answer. “The fireman? Has there been a fire in the house or something?” asked the worried principal.

“No,” whispered the child. “Then what are the policeman and fireman doing there?” Still whispering, the young voice replied with a soft giggle, “They are looking for me.”

It would be pretty hard for the “rescuers” to find this child as long as the child keeps hiding from them. In today’s gospel we see John the Baptist calling out to the people of Judea to come out into the open space and let God find them.

Homecoming is the central theme of the Scripture readings for the Second Sunday of Advent. All three readings focus on the absolute necessity of our getting ready for Christ’s coming by true repentance, reparation and the renewal of our lives.

The first reading, taken from the prophet Isaiah, tells us about the Babylonian exiles coming home to their native country, Judah, and their holy city, Jerusalem.

Isaiah assures his people that the Lord will lead them in a grand procession to their homeland and take care of them as a shepherd cares for his sheep.

The Responsorial psalm describes how shalom or perfect peace is coming home with the Lord’s coming. The second reading, taken from the second letter of Peter, invites us to get ready to go home to Heaven with Jesus at his second coming.

Peter tells those who doubt the second coming of Jesus that God’s way of counting time is different from ours and that God has His own reasons for delaying Christ’s second coming.

The Gospel tells us through John the Baptist how we should prepare to receive Jesus our Savior’s coming home into our lives during the Advent season by repentance and the renewal of life.

John preached that the appropriate behavior for those preparing “the way of the Lord” was to be baptized “as they confessed their sins.”

He wanted the Jews to prepare their lives for the Messiah by filling in the valleys of prejudice, leveling the mountains of pride and straightening out their crooked paths of injustice.

John recommended a baptism of repentance in the river Jordan to the Jews who were familiar with ritual and symbolic washings.

The Jews insisted that when a male Gentile became a Jew, he had to do three things:

i) accept circumcision as the mark of the covenant people;
ii) offer sacrifice because he stood in need of atonement, and
iii) undergo baptism by immersion in water, which symbolized his cleansing from all pollution.

The most amazing thing about John’s baptism was that he, a Jew, was asking fellow-Jews to submit to that which only a Gentile was supposed to need.

John was convinced of the truth that even the chosen people needed true repentance and renewal of life to receive their long-awaited Messiah. The baptism of a Gentile was accompanied by a confession made to three different recipients as a sign of repentance for sin.

(i) A man must make confession to himself because the first step in repentance is to admit his sin to himself.
(ii) He must make confession to those whom he has wronged.

This involves humiliation and is a test of real repentance since there can be no forgiveness without humiliation. (iii) He must make confession to God because it is when a man says, “I have sinned,” that God gets the chance to say, “I forgive.”

John’s message calls us also to confront and confess our sins; to turn away from them in sincere repentance; to receive God’s forgiveness; and most importantly, to look to Jesus.

Do we need to receive God’s forgiveness? There are basically two reasons why we fail to receive forgiveness. The first is that we fail to repent, and the second is that we fail to forgive. Is there someone we need to forgive today?

We can’t be forgiven unless we forgive. Let us let go of that bitterness and allow God to work healing in our life. Perhaps we need to draw closer to Him. Like the prodigal son’s father, God will run to meet us.

He will throw His arms around us and He will forgive us and restore us. He will receive us as His sons and daughters. Let us draw close to Him today, and He will draw close to us.

During this advent, John is calling us to come out of our hiding places such as complacency, smugness, procrastination, taking people for granted, self-preoccupation, addiction, chronic complaining, envy, pettiness, rudeness, ingratitude, laziness and anger.

When the heart is full, not even God can come into it. We have first to let go of what our heart is holding on to before we can embrace God.

We need to make use of Advent as a season of reflection and preparation. We are invited by the Church to prepare for Christmas.

Christmas is the time for reflection and personal renewal in preparation for the coming of Jesus into our lives.

Through his letter today St. Peter reminds us, on the one hand, of God’s great desire to come into our lives and, on the other, of our need to be prepared for that event when it happens.

We want God’s help and comfort, but we are not always prepared to change our ways to enhance genuine conversion. For God to come to us, we also need to go to Him. We need to let every day become Christmas and the “Day of the Lord” for each one of us.

We need to become preachers of the Good News through our own life. John’s preaching reminds us also of our important task of announcing Christ to others through our lives at home and in the community.

When we show real love, kindness, mercy and a spirit of forgiveness, we are announcing the truth that Christ is with us.

Thus, our lives become a kind of Bible which others can read. John the Baptist invites us to turn this Advent season into a real spiritual homecoming by making the necessary preparations for the arrival of the Savior and his entrance into our lives.

Be Blessed and Be. Blessing. Amen.