Second Sunday of Advent

The Second Sunday of Advent (Year B)

Reading 1

IS 40:1-5, 9-11

Comfort, give comfort to my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
that her service is at an end,
her guilt is expiated;
indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD
double for all her sins.

A voice cries out:
In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill shall be made low;
the rugged land shall be made a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together;
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Go up on to a high mountain,
Zion, herald of glad tidings;
cry out at the top of your voice,
Jerusalem, herald of good news!
Fear not to cry out
and say to the cities of Judah:
Here is your God!
Here comes with power
the Lord GOD,
who rules by his strong arm;
here is his reward with him,
his recompense before him.
Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
in his arms he gathers the lambs,
carrying them in his bosom,
and leading the ewes with care.

PS 85:9-10-11-12, 13-14

R. (8) Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD—for he proclaims peace to his people.
Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,
glory dwelling in our land.
Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.
Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and prepare the way of his steps.
Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.

Reading 2

2 PT 3:8-14

Do not ignore this one fact, beloved,
that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years
and a thousand years like one day.
The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,”
but he is patient with you,
not wishing that any should perish
but that all should come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief,
and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar
and the elements will be dissolved by fire,
and the earth and everything done on it will be found out.

Since everything is to be dissolved in this way,
what sort of persons ought you to be,
conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion,
waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God,
because of which the heavens will be dissolved in flames
and the elements melted by fire.
But according to his promise
we await new heavens and a new earth
in which righteousness dwells.
Therefore, beloved, since you await these things,
be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace.


LUKE 3:4, 6

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths:
All flesh shall see the salvation of God.
Alleluia, alleluia.


MK 1:1-8

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way.
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.”

John the Baptist appeared in the desert
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
People of the whole Judean countryside
and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem
were going out to him
and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River
as they acknowledged their sins.
John was clothed in camel’s hair,
with a leather belt around his waist.
He fed on locusts and wild honey.
And this is what he proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Exegesis Lite

IS 40:1-5, 9-11

Chapter 40 of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah referred to by scripture scholars as Second Isaiah of Deutero-Isaiah. The scenery has shifted from the first 39 chapters as the Israelite People are now in exile. The diaspora, the exile in Babylon has begun. Jerusalem is destroyed and the great temple is a pile of rubble. The leaders of the people are in captivity in Babylon and many of the people are left to scatter, many quite literally in the desert.

The homilist should be aware of this context. This is the beginning of the second great salvation paradigm. Seeking answers for their plight they look to their own sinfulness and how they had strayed from God. Now they are turning towards God and yearning for His saving hand.

The motif of God as Shepherd comes into vogue during this time-period. In a similar manner and in this historical setting, i.e., the Exile, both the Prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel also introduce this image. (Jer. 31:10, Ezek. 34). Through the Prophets God promises to shepherd His people, to gather and seek our the lost. The purpose of the shepherd is the life of the sheep.

A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the LORD! The image of the Way is introduced in Deutero-Isaiah as well. In our Gospel this weekend John the Baptist announces, “the Way of the Lord.” Jesus later would proclaim Himself to be (I AM) both the Good Shepherd and the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus is the Way. He is the mediator of God’s love and God’s life.

PS 85:9-10-11-12, 13-14

Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss. Truth shall spring out of the earth,

Justice shall walk before him and prepare the way of his steps.

God’s kindness, truth, and justice all speak of God’s hesed, God’s steadfast unchanging love. Jesus is the personification of the Agape Love that springs from the earth in the incarnation. Jesus is the Way that walks this earth.

The people are yearning for God’s love.

2 PT 3:8-14

The Apostle reminds us today that God is outside of time. We naturally think in very finite and chronological terms. In that vein we should not think of our waiting and watching for God as just a future event such as our death or the end times whichever comes first. God is always on the horizon of our lives. God waits and longs for us the return to him now, to rend our hearts open now, to prepare the way for Him to appear in our hearts now! In the great parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus shows us a God who waits and longs for us to return to Him.

MK 1:1-8

Appropriately we begin the Season of Advent in the Year of Mark (Year B) with the beginning of Mark’s Gospel. Mark is the shortest and most succinct of the synoptic gospels. He has a way of getting to the point. (Good advice for preachers everywhere)

Jesus is the way. He is the mediator between God and man. He came to reconcile us to the Father. He is calling us to repentance, to die to sin and rise to life. Repentance at its deepest level is our reconnecting our souls to the source of love and mercy. We must make the choice to remove the obstacles that we place between ourselves and God.

Humor Lite

Another true story from Fr. Glenn.

In my years prior to seminary, I taught parish faith formation for several years, mostly high school students. On occasion I would sub in the younger grades. One morning in 3rd grade class we were reading today’s Gospel, the story of John the Baptist. One of the girls raised her hand and asked, “what are locusts.” I replied they are big fat grasshoppers. Her reply was “EUUUU he ate grasshoppers!” as she made a face. After a moment of awkward silence one of the boys next to her in spirit of one-ups-man-ship said: “that’s nothing, my grandmother drinks them.” Thankfully, none of the kids got that one.

Reflection Lite

My Dear Friends in Christ,

Our Scripture readings this weekend, for the Second Sunday of Advent, are appropriately about preparing the way for God in our lives. Our first reading is taken from the Prophet Isaiah again this week. The Prophet is writing at a time when the Israelite people are exiled in Babylon. Last week Isaiah was crying out to God to rend the Heavens open and come down to save us. He is calling on God to prepare a way to the Holy City. Now the tide is turned, and he is calling on us, the people, to prepare a way for God! He is calling on us to make the mountains low and fill in the valleys. He is calling on us to open the way for God to enter our lives to open a clear path for His love to embrace and envelop us.

In our Gospel, John the Baptist is calling us like Isaiah to “Prepare the way of the Lord, to make straight His paths.” He is calling us to remove the obstacles of sin by burying them and washing them away in the waters of baptism. He is calling us to die to our old self and rise from the waters, open to receive new life from God. He is preparing us to be receptive to the new life that Jesus will bring with the fire of His love and the power of His Holy Spirit,

The question is why does God need a clear path to our hearts? The answer is that love has to be free, or it would not be love. God is love and therefore must allow our freewill at all costs. God will clear the path to Himself, but He will not force Himself upon us. We must clear the way for God in our lives. The famous passage from the Book of Revelation comes to mind, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.” (Rev. 3:20) There is a famous painting by a 12th century artist that portrays this famous passage with Jesus standing at the door and knocking. On the side of the door that Jesus stands there is no door handle. The door must be opened from the inside. Each of us must open the “door” of our hearts and of our lives to God.

The readings for the first two Sundays of Advent portray two converging desires. God so loved the world that He is sending His only Son into our world, He is rending the Heavens open, and His grace is pouring upon the world through the pierced heart of His Son. We, in turn, are preparing to meet Him who is both the deepest longing of our hearts and the fulfillment of that longing. Prepare the way to receive Jesus ever new this Advent Season. And so, we pray, “Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of us Your faithful and enkindle in us the fire of Your love.

Yours in Christ,


Personal Witness Lite

As I reflect on my life and my own faith journey, I am a little shocked by how far I had stayed from God earlier in my life. It was sort of a gradual drift and therefore went unnoticed by me and others. I don’t know that it was any real serious sin that I had fallen into. I think it was more and more of a focus on the world and the mundane. I was busy and preoccupied with life. Over time I had become very mechanical in my faith.

The life that I was living was more of an existence than real life. When I was doing some spiritual reading one day, I was struck by the words of the late Fr. John Powell. He wrote: “Fear not that you might die, fear that you may never really live.” Those words sent me searching.

A short time later during a retreat experience I went to confession and really poured out my heart, I truly emptied myself. At that moment I experienced the warmth and embrace of God’s love as I had never experienced before. It was as if in a moment of Grace God melted my heart. At that moment I also realized how hard my heart had become. It was as if I had placed a hard protective shell around it. Now I know that over time I kept adding layers to that protective cover. I was not allowing God or anyone else for that matter into that space. As a result I was just existing and not really living.

For me to remove the obstacles, to make way for the Lord in my life, was to allow God in. That involved making the decision to go to the retreat, making the choice to avail myself of the sacrament of confession, opening and emptying my heart and letting God in. God did the rest!