The Second Sunday of Advent – 8 December 2019
Lectionary Readings: Isa. 11:1-10; Ps. 72: 1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17; Rom. 15:4-9; Mt. 3:1-12
Theme: Prepare for the kingdom of heaven
Advent is a time of preparation for the memorial of the First Coming of Jesus as Savior (Messiah). It is also a time to remind ourselves of the Second Coming (or returning) which will take place when time ceases. In between the coming and the returning will be for each of us a meeting with Jesus at our death – so Advent is also a time to ponder on this reality. All three meetings require preparation on our part. John the Baptist the forerunner of Jesus (the friend of the Bridegroom) is the awaited Elijah of the Jews. He tells us in our Gospel passage of two ways that we can prepare, namely: make his paths straight and repent because the kingdom of heaven, the special gift from God the Father is about to be offered to us in the person of Jesus, the Messiah. Mark presents this message as coming from Jesus himself: This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel (1:15).
Isaiah speaks about the shoot that shall arise from the house of Jesse – the Davidic line. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him. John the Baptist tells us that the One coming after him will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. The Holy Spirit bestows the gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge and fear of the Lord on the Chosen One and he shall judge the poor with righteousness. The fire that John speaks about burns up like chaff those who are not ready for the Messiah’s coming. This is described by Isaiah as with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
The Response to the Responsorial Psalm (72) is: In his days shall justice flourish and great peace forever. Isaiah describes in verses 6-10 what this peace will be like: They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. The kingdom of heaven in the Gospel reading links symbolically with these verses in their description of peace and harmony among all of creation.
Paul presents to us in his letter to the Romans how we should prepare for all three meetings: with Jesus, the child; Jesus, our Savior; and Jesus the King presenting his kingdom to his Father: May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God.
For Reflection and Discussion:  . How am I preparing for each of the three ‘meetings’ with Jesus?  In what areas of my life do I need repentance?  Where do I see signs of the “kingdom of heaven” in our world today?