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This weekend we celebrate the second Sunday of the season of Advent. Each year as we begin the season of Advent we also begin a new liturgical year; and each liturgical year we read a different Gospel. This year is year C, (We are on a three year cycle of readings.), so we read from the Gospel of Luke. (In year A we read from the Gospel of Matthew. In year B we read from the Gospel of Mark. We read from the Gospel of John primarily during the Easter Season, although sections of it are also used in year B to supplement Mark, which is the shortest Gospel.)
The season of Advent has a threefold character. It is a time for us to remember Christ’s first coming as we prepare to celebrate Christmas. Also, though, it is a time for us to prepare our minds and hearts as we await Christ’s second coming at the end of the world. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it calls us to be ready to meet Christ as he comes (in a variety of forms) into each of our daily lives.
Two important figures during Advent are John the Baptist and the Virgin Mary. John heralded Jesus’ coming, and Mary models what it means for us to recognize and respond to Christ.
The words most often associated with the season of Advent are: waiting, anticipation, preparation, longing, expectation, joyful, and hopeful. The joyful expectation of Advent distinguishes it from the penitential character of Lent.
In our Gospel for this weekend, Luke introduces John the Baptist. He situates John’s proclamation within a precise historical context: “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar………….” At first this might seem odd, but when you stop and think about it don’t we do the same thing, when we try to locate an event in our lives, e.g. I know we lived on Elm Street and Bush was president when …………..” Clearly Luke sees John’s proclamation “Prepare the way of the Lord…….” as having world wide importance.
Our first reading this weekend is from the Book of the Prophet Baruch. We don’t often read from Baruch, who was reported to be the secretary to the Prophet Jeremiah. This book was written after the fall of Jerusalem and was meant to give encouragement to the people in exile. “Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery, put on the splendor of glory from God forever.”
Our second reading this weekend is from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians. In it Paul writes from prison to the Philippians to encourage them that “your love my increase more and more….”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- While I try to set aside some extra time for prayer during Advent, I don’t have a lot of other ideas about how to prepare the way of the Lord. Any suggestions?
- Baruch’s message was one on optimism and hope that ultimately the Lord would restore Jerusalem. What words would you use to convey this kind of message to someone who was experiencing a time of trial or uncertainty?
- Do you have any special activities planned for Advent, or any special memories of Advents, past?