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Advent challenges us to prepare for Jesus

December 5, The Second Sunday of Advent
Sunday Readings: Baruch 5:1-9; Psalm 126:1-2,2-3,4-5,6 ; Philippians 1:4-6,8-11 & Luke 3:1-6

The Second Sunday of Advent challenges us to prepare a royal highway in our hearts for Jesus so that we may receive Him as our saving God during Christmas. We should also be prepared for Christ's daily coming into our lives in the Holy Eucharist, in the Holy Bible and the praying community.

In the first reading, Baruch asks the grieving Jerusalem to stand on the heights to see her scattered children coming home, with God in the lead.

Psalm 126 is a joyous song of ascent, sung by pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem. We see those who had gone into exile weeping now returning "rejoicing, carrying their sheaves."

In writing to his beloved community at Philippi, Paul, in today's second reading, prays that they are filled with joy as they await the day of Christ.  Paul reminds us that our remembrance of God's saving deeds during the Advent season is meant to stir our faith and fill us with confidence so that "the One who began a good work in us will continue to complete it" until Jesus comes again in glory. 

In the Gospel, John the Baptist challenges us to prepare the way for the salvation of "all flesh," including our own, by true repentance leading to the renewal of our lives.  Fulfilling the Lord God's words to Israel through Isaiah, John, by his preaching of repentance and a change of life is "the voice of one crying out in the desert: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths…" For us, this command means that we are to prepare a royal road in our hearts for our Savior, a way out of the wilderness of sin and alienation, to God.

Each year, the second and the third Sundays in Advent center on John the Baptist, reminding us that if we want to prepare properly for the coming of Jesus, we need to listen to the Baptizer's message.

John's baptism symbolized turning from the past and turning toward a new life with God in the future. And what was repentance? It was a turning from the sin in the past and turning toward God. John's baptism was a "baptism of repentance," a baptism for the forgiveness of sins and it required repentance (a change of being), turning back toward God. "Our basic problem is a heart problem. We need to get the heart changed, the heart transformed"

John was inviting the Chosen people to be purified of the unholy elements in their lives.

Preparing "the way" means to create a favorable environment or to make it easy for someone to come to one and operate in one's life.  If a king were planning to travel, work crews would be dispatched to repair the roads, which would be straight, level, and smooth.

John considered himself as the messenger of the king.  But the preparation on which he insisted was a preparation of heart and of life.  "The king is coming," he said in effect.  "Mend, not your roads, but your lives."  The quotation, "making straight the paths of the Lord," means clearing the path of sin, which is the major obstacle preventing the Lord from coming into our lives. The valley here stands for the estrangement of man from God.

John called people to repent as a way of preparing their hearts and lives for the Lord's visit.  He is calling us, too, to get ready for something so great that it fills our emptiness with expectation.  A smooth road means nothing to God, but a repentant heart means a great deal.  Hence, the truly important goal for us is to prepare our hearts to receive the Lord.

Advent, like Lent, is a season given to us so that we may repent of our sins and be reconciled with God and His Church by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  It was for this purpose that Jesus instituted the Sacrament after His Resurrection: "Receive the Holy Spirit: Those whose sins you forgive are forgiven; those whose sins you retain are retained" (Jn 20:18-22).

We need to prepare the way for the Messiah in our hearts. We need to repent and seek forgiveness from God and our fellow human beings: John's message calls us to confront and confess our sins. We have to turn away from them in sincere repentance and receive God's forgiveness.  We can't be forgiven unless we forgive.  We must release our bitterness if we are to be able to allow God to do His healing work in our lives.

 

Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.

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