Browsing Homilies

Second Sunday of Advent

Bar 5:1-9 | Ps 126 | Phil 1:4-6, 8-11 | Lk 3:1-6

On this Second Sunday of Advent, our Scriptures focus on rejoicing. The prophet Baruch, whose name means, “Blessed,” lived 600 years before Christ. He was a scribe, disciple, and devoted friend of the prophet Jeremiah (whom we heard from last Sunday). In this first reading, Baruch instructs the Jewish people to lay down their garments of mourning and misery and put on the splendor, or glory of God, following the destruction of Jerusalem and their prayer for forgiveness and salvation. Baruch wanted to assure God’s people that troubles do not last forever. While they may have been captured by their enemies, God has not forsaken them. They would return to the Promised Land.

God is always with God’s people, especially during times of trials and tribulations. Every four weeks, in the cycle of readings, psalms, and canticles for the Liturgy of the Hours, Psalm 34 proclaims, “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted; those whose spirit is crushed he will save” (Week III). This same God of Baruch hears the cries of God’s people today, living in a foreign and hostile land of gun violence, systemic and environmental racism, and governmental policies that do not protect the sanctity of life, nor advocate for a consistent ethic of life. (We cannot be pro-life when it comes to the womb, and advocate for the death penalty at the same time). Baruch assures us that God does hear our cries and has not abandoned us. While we may weep for a moment, we will rejoice in the birth of a savior, who is the light of the world. His justice and mercy will be our companion.

Like the first reading and psalm (which had a little pep to it), our second reading speaks of joy and rejoicing. Paul’s first words quickly set the tone of warmth, as this short epistle is a personal letter to believers in Philippi, for whom Paul maintains a deep affection. Paul explains no great doctrinal thesis but rather shares the sources of joy that uplift and sustain him. Remember, he’s writing from a prison cell in Rome to close friends who are deeply worried about him. Evan facing prison and possible execution, Paul speaks of joy and rejoicing.

Where does he find his joy? He finds his strength and joy in the Body of Christ. He finds his strength and joy in discerning what is of true and lasting value. This world and the things of this world are fleeting, but our faith in Jesus Christ will never pass away. Paul can rejoice as should we in knowing “that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” This is why we joyfully anticipate the coming of the Messiah, the Lord Emmanuel, who is the source of our contentment and joy.

In our gospel reading today we encounter John the Baptist announcing the coming of the Lord: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” Like the prophets of old, John strikes out against the sins of God’s people by proclaiming a message of justice, repentance, and forgiveness of sins. John, no doubt, recalls the prophet Baruch, who proclaimed in our first reading that “every lofty mountain be made low and that the age-old depths and gorges be filled to level ground.”

The time of waiting is drawing near! The Messiah is at hand and our hearts are filled with joy at his coming. Darkness will give way to light. Hate will give way to love. Corruption will give way to righteousness. Despair will give way to hope.

Let us wait on the Lord and be of good courage. Let us be filled with joy because our God continues to do great things for us. We rejoice in God as God keeps God’s promise to us. May we continue to find joy in our God, just as God delights in each one of us!


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