The Second Sunday in Advent – 6 December 2020
ectionary Readings: Is: 40:1-5, 9-11; Ps 85: 9-10, 11-12, 13-14; 2 Peter 3:8-14; Mk1:1-8
Theme: A New World
We live in a world suffering from the Covid-19 pandemic and we long to hear good news. Our Christian calling also needs to be reaffirmed at this time and this is accomplished in the readings of today.
From the outset the gospel is precisely and explicitly “good news’. The opening words of the gospel according to Mark are: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” The word ‘beginning’ is not used by chance. The first book of the Torah, Genesis which describes the creation of the world, starts with the same expression (Gen 1:1). Mark is saying that the preaching of John the Baptist which follows is the beginning of a new world. Jesus is the start of a new creation.
Mark calls his work Gospel or Good News (Greek evangelion). Good news in the first century in Palestine meant the good news of God’s pending deliverance and takes us back to the first reading and the preaching of Deutero-Isaiah, the poet-prophet during the exile in Babylon. He announced that God would comfort his people “Comfort, give comfort to my people” (40:1). They certainly needed it! God would deliver them from their sufferings in a new Exodus (40:9; 41:27). The prophet assures the exiles that God is about to pave a way through the desert so that they will be able to return home to their beloved Jerusalem atop Mount Zion.
In the Roman world of that time, the understanding of ‘good tidings’ indicated the birth of an heir to the ruler together with the good news of the peace brought by that ruler. True peace, shalom, is brought by Jesus and comes through union with Him and is the fruit of preaching of the gospel (Eph 6:15).
Mark tells us that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God. Peter would acknowledge Jesus as the Christ at Caesarea Philippi (8:29) and the pagan centurion would accept him as the Son of God after his death (15:39). What follows is the preaching of John the Baptist: it starts with a quotation which Mark mistakenly attributes to Isaiah, but it is derived from two sources Isaiah (40:3) and Malachi (3:1). The Baptist is the messenger of Malachi and the voice of Isaiah. Both passages seemed to Mark to be appropriate to the work of John the Baptist. Jews believed that before the Messiah came a prophet would herald his coming. Some even thought that Elijah would come again to do this. Mark, however, wished to show that John was the herald-prophet and showed this by John wearing the clothing of Elijah (2 Kings 1:8). John announced the coming of the one more powerful than he: one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit. We, too, are called to announce Jesus who is coming again at Christmas and to prepare the way for him during Advent.
For Reflection and Discussion: 1 .Are we, as faithful disciples paving the way for the Lord’s coming now and in glory? How are we preparing this Advent?
Bibliography: Campbell D B.J. The Synoptic Gospels (London: 1983); Edmonds P. A Companion to the Sunday Missal A B C (Paulines Kenya: 2003); McKenzie, J.L. Dictionary of the Bible (New York: 1965)
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Marie Andre Mitchell SNDdeN, Johannesburg. South Africa, Bat Kol Alumna