Second Sunday in Advent

John-the-Baptist.jpg

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

OPENING PRAYER

O Jesus, in an empty desert your prophet John proclaimed: God is here, at your side. God has come to bring about a kingdom where injustice and suffering will be no more, where tears will be wiped away, and where those who turn to God will feast at a banquet.

Give me faith like John’s, O Lord, strong enough to believe even in a desert that you and your kingdom are no farther from me than my hand. Make my heart strong like his, not swayed by trials or snared by false pleasures. Give me courage to be faithful until your promises are fulfilled.

O King of all nations, Jesus Christ,

only joy of every heart,

come and save your people.

COLLECT

Almighty and merciful God,

may no earthly undertaking hinder those

who set out in haste to meet your Son,

but may our learning of heavenly wisdom

gain us admittance to his company.

Who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

-18.jpg

Is 11:1-10

On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,

and from his roots a bud shall blossom.

The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him:

a spirit of wisdom and of understanding,

a spirit of counsel and of strength,

a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,

and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.

Not by appearance shall he judge,

nor by hearsay shall he decide,

but he shall judge the poor with justice,

and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.

He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,

and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.

Justice shall be the band around his waist,

and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,

and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;

the calf and the young lion shall browse together,

with a little child to guide them.

The cow and the bear shall be neighbors,

together their young shall rest;

the lion shall eat hay like the ox.

The baby shall play by the cobra’s den,

and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.

There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain;

for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD,

as water covers the sea.

On that day, the root of Jesse,

set up as a signal for the nations,

the Gentiles shall seek out,

for his dwelling shall be glorious.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 436 The word “Christ” comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Messiah, which means “anointed”. It became the name proper to Jesus only because he accomplished perfectly the divine mission that “Christ” signifies. In effect, in Israel those consecrated to God for a mission that he gave were anointed in his name. This was the case for kings, for priests and, in rare instances, for prophets.1 This had to be the case all the more so for the Messiah whom God would send to inaugurate his kingdom definitively.2 It was necessary that the Messiah be anointed by the Spirit of the Lord at once as king and priest, and also as prophet.3 Jesus fulfilled the messianic hope of Israel in his threefold office of priest, prophet and king.

CCC 536 The baptism of Jesus is on his part the acceptance and inauguration of his mission as God’s suffering Servant. He allows himself to be numbered among sinners; he is already “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”.4 Already he is anticipating the “baptism” of his bloody death.5 Already he is coming to “fulfil all righteousness”, that is, he is submitting himself entirely to his Father’s will: out of love he consents to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins.6 The Father’s voice responds to the Son’s acceptance, proclaiming his entire delight in his Son.7 The Spirit whom Jesus possessed in fullness from his conception comes to “rest on him”.8 Jesus will be the source of the Spirit for all mankind. At his baptism “the heavens were opened”9 – the heavens that Adam’s sin had closed – and the waters were sanctified by the descent of Jesus and the Spirit, a prelude to the new creation.

CCC 672 Before his Ascension Christ affirmed that the hour had not yet come for the glorious establishment of the messianic kingdom awaited by Israel10 which, according to the prophets, was to bring all men the definitive order of justice, love and peace.11 According to the Lord, the present time is the time of the Spirit and of witness, but also a time still marked by “distress” and the trial of evil which does not spare the Church12 and ushers in the struggles of the last days. It is a time of waiting and watching.13

CCC 712 The characteristics of the awaited Messiah begin to appear in the “Book of Emmanuel” (“Isaiah said this when he saw his glory,”14 speaking of Christ), especially in the first two verses of Isaiah 11:

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,

and a branch shall grow out of his roots.

And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,

the spirit of wisdom and understanding,

the spirit of counsel and might,

the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.15

CCC 1286 In the Old Testament the prophets announced that the Spirit of the Lord would rest on the hoped-for Messiah for his saving mission.16 The descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus at his baptism by John was the sign that this was he who was to come, the Messiah, the Son of God.17 He was conceived of the Holy Spirit; his whole life and his whole mission are carried out in total communion with the Holy Spirit whom the Father gives him “without measure.”18

CCC 1831 The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David.19 They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations.

Let your good spirit lead me on a level path.20

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. .. If children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.21

1 Cf. Ex 29:7; Lev 8:12; 1 Sam 9:16; 10:1; 16:1, 12-13; I Kings 1:39; 19:16.

2 Cf. Ps 2:2; Acts 4:26-27.

3 Cf. Is 11:2; 61:1; Zech 4:14; 6:13; Lk 4:16-21.

4 Jn 1:29; cf. Is 53:12.

5 Cf. Mk 10:38; Lk 12:50.

6 Mt 3:15; cf. 26:39.

7 Cf. Lk 3:22; Is 42:1.

8 Jn 1:32-33; cf. Is 11:2.

9 Mt 3:16.

10 Cf. Acts 1:6-7.

11 Cf. Is 11:1-9.

12 Cf. Acts 1:8; I Cor 7:26; Eph 5:16; I Pt 4:17.

13 Cf. Mt 25:1, 13; Mk 13:33-37; I Jn 2:18; 4:3; I Tim 4:1.

14 Jn 12:41; cf. Isa 6-12.

15 Isa 11:1-2.

16 Cf. Isa 11:2; 61:1; Lk 4:16-22.

17 Cf. Mt 3:13-17; Jn 1:33-34.

18 Jn 3:34.

19 Cf. Isa 11:1-2.

20 PS 143:10.

21 Rom 8:14, 17.

APPLICATION

In the eighth century B.C., when Isaiah spoke these prophetic words, many of his contemporaries were in the depths of despair. Because of the sad state of the true religion and the return to idolatry and paganism then so prevalent among them, many of Yahweh’s loyal followers were afraid that Yahweh had forgotten his promises to the Patriarchs, their ancestors. Isaiah dispels their fears and their despair, by his definite promise that a new Davidic King would come who would establish peace and a glorious kingdom of justice on earth. His kingdom would be a return to the peace of Paradise, before sin entered the world.

Today, twenty-seven centuries later, we too need to listen to this prophet of hope. We are living in a world where disloyalty to God among those who believe in him, and the denial of his very existence by many more, are prevalent. The natural and logical result of these two positions is that justice and peace among men do not and cannot exist. If men deny that God has any rights or claims over them or act as if he has not, then they cannot admit that their fellowman has any claims on them, or any right to demand justice from them. There can be no true love of neighbor, and no true respect for his rights, where there is no love for God and respect for his rights.

This explains the chaotic state of out world today. But an explanation is not a solution. Diagnosis of a disease is not its cure. We must strive to give God his rightful place in our daily lives, and follow the only path that leads to justice and peace on earth. This is the path laid down by Christ, the true son of God, who came on earth, as man, to teach us that we should love God, and love our neighbor because God loves us. Through the coming of Christ he has made us all his own adopted children.

Many will shrug their shoulders and say : what can I do about this, what effect can any action of mine have in bringing sanity (i.e. true religion), back to this mad world of ours? Yet, you can do a lot, and far more than you could expect. If you put your own conscience straight with God and with your neighbor, God has one more loyal son on earth, one more channel through which he can send his grace to men, one more ray of light, which will help dispel the darkness of despair which surrounds us.

To prepare yourself to welcome Christ at Christmas take an honest look at yourself. How do you stand in relation to God and your neighbor? Are you doing your part to keep peace and love in the home and in your neighborhood? In your place of work are you an example of justice, of peace, of respect for the things of God? Are your language and your conduct truly Christian? Can your fellow-workers say of you: “that man’s religion really means something to him, I wish I were like him”? If you can say “yes,” to these soul-questions, then thank God for it and strive to do even more. If your honest answer is “No,” then begin today to change your life. Your true happiness on earth, and the guarantee of your eternal happiness after death, will depend on this change. Not only that, but the true happiness of many others on earth, and the chance of their eternal happiness hereafter, will depend on it too. Is this too much to ask of any sensible man, who knows where he came from and knows where he is going?

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17

Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.

O God, with your judgment endow the king,

and with your justice, the king’s son;

he shall govern your people with justice

and your afflicted ones with judgment.

Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.

Justice shall flower in his days,

and profound peace, till the moon be no more.

May he rule from sea to sea,

and from the River to the ends of the earth.

Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.

For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out,

and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.

He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;

the lives of the poor he shall save.

Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.

May his name be blessed forever;

as long as the sun his name shall remain.

In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;

all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.

Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.

READING II

-19.jpg

Rom 15:4-9

Brothers and sisters:

Whatever was written previously was written for our instruction,

that by endurance and by the encouragement of the Scriptures

we might have hope.

May the God of endurance and encouragement

grant you to think in harmony with one another,

in keeping with Christ Jesus,

that with one accord you may with one voice

glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you,

for the glory of God.

For I say that Christ became a minister of the circumcised

to show God’s truthfulness,

to confirm the promises to the patriarchs,

but so that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.

As it is written:

Therefore, I will praise you among the Gentiles

and sing praises to your name.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 520 In all of his life Jesus presents himself as our model. He is “the perfect man”,1 who invites us to become his disciples and follow him. In humbling himself, he has given us an example to imitate, through his prayer he draws us to pray, and by his poverty he calls us to accept freely the privation and persecutions that may come our way.2

CCC 2627 Two fundamental forms express this movement: our prayer ascends in the Holy Spirit through Christ to the Father – we bless him for having blessed us;3 it implores the grace of the Holy Spirit that descends through Christ from the Father – he blesses us.4

1 GS 38; cf. Rom 1 5:5; Phil 2:5.

2 Cf. Jn 13:15; Lk 11:1; Mt 5:11-12.

3 Cf. Eph 1:3-14; 2 Cor 1:3 7; 1 Pet 1:3-9.

4 Cf. 2 Cor 13:14; Rom 15:5-6,13; Eph 6:23-24.

APPLICATION

“Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction.” St. Paul is referring to the inspired books of the Old Testament in this sentence, and how true this statement is. From these books we learn of the existence of the true God, from whom all things came to be. And not only do we learn of the existence of God, who is our Creator, but we learn that he is our Father, that be has a paternal interest in us, that he has put us on earth in order to share his heaven with us later. It was for this purpose that he revealed himself to Abraham, and made him the father of the Chosen People: from him he had planned that his Son would take his human nature and become one of us, in order to make us brothers and sons of the eternal Father.

All God’s dealings with Abraham and his descendants–the Jews–as described in the books of the Old Testament, were part of and preparation for this great central act of God’s love for men–the Incarnation.

In these dealings, we learn of another most consoling fact about God–his infinite mercy and his unbounded gift of forgiveness for sinful, unworthy men. His Chosen People, the Jews, were sinful and stubborn, yet he put up with them for centuries, came to their aid again and again, when their own sins had brought misfortunes and catastrophes upon them. Like a recurring decimal, we have, in their whole history of eighteen hundred years, the following theme: sin and disloyalty to their good God, punishment generally from pagan neighbors, their return to God, when in extreme and dire straits, God’s forgiveness and a new start.

For most of us Christians, who should know better and should love God more sincerely, for we are witnesses of his supreme act of love in the Incarnation, the knowledge that we are dealing with a God of infinite mercy and patience is a source of strength and encouragement. For we too, unfortunately, are too apt to imitate the Jews in our dealings with God. There are few of us who cannot see in our past lives something similar to the recurring decimal of the Jewish history. However, God is still the God of infinite mercy. He does not, and cannot, change. He is ever ready to forgive and pardon; the prodigal will still get the fatted calf, and the newest garment, if he really returns to his Father.

Yes, whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction. Add to this what has been written concerning Christ’s coming among us, with his teaching and promises, and we Christians surely have an inexhaustible source of encouragement and hope. To help us prepare ourselves to welcome Christ at Christmas, the Church brings before our minds sections of the Old and New Testaments, which should inspire us with new faith, hope and charity. Faith in God, who always fulfills his promises, hope for our eventual salvation, and charity, or love for God, who has done, and is still doing, such wonderful things for us unworthy men. This charity and love of God must spill over on our neighbor, if it is sincere, for as St. John tells us, the man who says he loves God and yet hates his neighbor is a liar (2 Jn. 4: 20).

GOSPEL

-20.jpg

Mt 3:1-12

John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea

and saying,

It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said:

A voice of one crying out in the desert,

Prepare the way of the Lord,

make straight his paths.

John wore clothing made of camel’s hair

and had a leather belt around his waist.

His food was locusts and wild honey.

At that time Jerusalem, all Judea,

and the whole region around the Jordan

were going out to him

and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River

as they acknowledged their sins.

When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees

coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers!

Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?

Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.

And do not presume to say to yourselves,

We have Abraham as our father.’

For I tell you,

God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.

Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees.

Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit

will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

I am baptizing you with water, for repentance,

but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.

I am not worthy to carry his sandals.

He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

His winnowing fan is in his hand.

He will clear his threshing floor

and gather his wheat into his barn,

but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/120416.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 520 In all of his life Jesus presents himself as our model. He is “the perfect man”,1 who invites us to become his disciples and follow him. In humbling himself, he has given us an example to imitate, through his prayer he draws us to pray, and by his poverty he calls us to accept freely the privation and persecutions that may come our way.2

CCC 2627 Two fundamental forms express this movement: our prayer ascends in the Holy Spirit through Christ to the Father – we bless him for having blessed us;3 it implores the grace of the Holy Spirit that descends through Christ from the Father – he blesses us.4

1 GS 38; cf. Rom 1 5:5; Phil 2:5.

2 Cf. Jn 13:15; Lk 11:1; Mt 5:11-12.

3 Cf. Eph 1:3-14; 2 Cor 1:3 7; 1 Pet 1:3-9.

4 Cf. 2 Cor 13:14; Rom 15:5-6,13; Eph 6:23-24.

APPLICATION

In this holy season of Advent, as we prepare to welcome Christ at Christmas, John the Baptist has words of advice and warnings for each one of us. He advises us to “prepare the way of the Lord,” by true repentance of our past sins and a firm resolution to straighten “the ways of the Lord,” that is, not to deviate from the true Christian way of life in the future. Please God, none of us deserves the reproaches he addressed to the Pharisees and Sadducees, but most of us perhaps can find traces of some predominant vices in our innermost selves. The pride and self-righteousness of the Pharisees ruined their otherwise good lives. The worldliness of the Sadducees made them lose interest in the future life, until they went so far as to deny any future existence after death.

Of these two vices, that of the Sadducees is the more prevalent today, and it is to be found in the best of us, in a greater or lesser degree. While all true Christians repudiate atheistic Communism, with its denial of the existence of God and of a future life, many be come so immersed in the things of this world that they have no time or thought for the world that is to come. While, theoretically, they reject Communism, they themselves, like the “brood of vipers” of whom the Baptist spoke, are full of the poison of materialism, and are injecting this poison into those whom they influence.

A sincere examination of our outlook on life and death, and of our way of life up to today, will tell us how we stand in relation to Christ. Let each one of us ask himself : if Christ, for whose coming as the Divine Babe of Bethlehem we are preparing, were to come to him before Christmas as his just judge, how would he fare? Would he be gathered with the wheat into the granary, or be bundled with the chaff into the unquenchable fire? Each one of us has the decision in his own hands. We can, by true repentance, change ourselves from chaff into wheat, but once we draw our last breath, not even the infinitely merciful God can do that for us.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission from Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

Let us gaze on John the Baptist. Challenging and active he stands before us, a “type” of the manly vocation. In harsh terms he demands metanoia, a radical transformation of attitudes. Those who would be Christians must be “transformed’ ever again. Our natural disposition, indeed, finds us always ready to assert ourselves to pay like with like, to put ourselves at the center. Those who want to find God need, again and again, that inner conversion, that new direction. And this applies also to the total outlook on life. Day by day we encounter the world of visible things. It assaults us through billboards, broadcasts, traffic, and all the activities of daily life, to such an enormous extent that we are tempted to assume there is nothing else but this. Yet the truth is that what is invisible is greater and much more valuable than anything visible. One single soul, in Pascal’s beautiful words, is worth more than the entire visible universe. But in order to have a living awareness of this, we need conversion, we need to turn around inside, as it were, to overcome the illusion of what is visible, and to develop the feeling, the ears and the eyes, for what is invisible. This has to be more important than anything that bombards us day after day with such exaggerated urgency. Metanoeite: change your attitude, so that God may dwell in you and, through you, in the world. John himself was not spared this painful process of change, of turning around.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Jn 1: 1-14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was made nothing that was made: in Him was life, and the life was the Light of men; and the Light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to testify concerning the Light, taht all might believe through Him. He was not the Light, be he was to testify concerning the Light. That was the true Light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world.

He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him to them He gave power to become sons of God, to them that believe in His Name, who are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us: and we saw His glory, the glory as of the Only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Deo Gratias.

Advertisements

About Benedicamus Domino

Let Us Bless The Lord - A Benedictine oblate's weekly study of the Catholic Church's Sunday Sacred Liturgy. I hope that families and friends will benefit from this as a prayerful way to prepare and actively participate in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
This entry was posted in Advent, agnostic, athiest, Benedictine oblate, Bible Study, Catholic, Christian, faith, Heaven, hell, Holy Spirit, Liturgy, mercy, Oblate, prayer, The Word of God, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.