Second Sunday of Advent (A)
December 08, 2019
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.

 

Second Sunday of Advent (A)

 

 

Collect

Almighty and merciful God,
may no earthly undertaking hinder those
who set out in haste to meet your Son,
but may our learning of heavenly wisdom
gain us admittance to his company.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

 

Proper Chants

Introit

 

 

 V/. People of Zion behold, the Lord is coming to save all nations; and the Lord shall cause you to hear his majestic voice for the joy of your heart.  Ps./ O Shepherd of Israel hear us, you who lead Joseph like a flock: Enthroned on the cherubim, shine forth †upon Ephraim, Benjamin, Manasseh. * Rouse up your might and come to save us.

 

Offertory

 

 

V/. You will turn toward us, O God, and restore our life again, and your people will rejoice in you. Show us, Lord, your mercy and grant us your salvation. Ps./ O Lord, you have favored your land, *and brought back the captives of Jacob. You forgave the guilt of your people, *and covered all their  sins. You averted all your rage; *you turned back the heat of your anger.

 

Communion

 

V/. Arise, O Jerusalem, and stand on high; and behold the joy that shall come to you from your God. Ps./ O Jerusalem, glorify the Lord! * O Sion, praise your God!  He has strengthened the bars of your gates; *he has blessed your children within you. He established peace on your  borders; *he gives you your fill of finest wheat.

 

Liturgy of the Word

Reading 1  Isaiah 11:1-10

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the girdle of his waist, and faithfulness the girdle of his loins. The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall feed; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The sucking child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den. 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. In that day the root of Jesse shall stand as an ensign to the peoples; him shall the nations seek, and his dwellings shall be glorious.

Reading 2 Rom 15:4-9

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. 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 has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, "Therefore I will praise thee among the Gentiles, and sing to thy name."

Gospel Mt 3:1-12

In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." Now John wore a garment of camel's hair, and a leather girdle around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sad'ducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, `We have Abraham as our father'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. "I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."

Reflection Questions: 

1.      How does the Spirit of the Lord rest up on you?

2.      How are you experiencing endurance and encouragement?

3.      What paths are in need straightening in your life?

 

Catena Nova

The Lord Jesus began his preaching of the Gospel with the admonition: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Mt 4:17).” His forerunner, John the Baptist, began his in the same way: “Repent,” he said, “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Mt 3:2).” Today, for those who will not repent at the approach of the kingdom of heaven, the reproof of the Lord Jesus is the same. As he points out himself, “You cannot expect to see the kingdom of heaven coming. The kingdom of heaven,” he says elsewhere, “is within you (Lk 17:21).” Each of us would be wise therefore to take to heart the advice of his teacher, and not waste this present time. It is now that our Savior offers us his mercy; now, while he still spares the human race. Understand that it is in hope of our conversion that he spares us, for he desires no one’s damnation. As for when the end of the world will be, that is God’s concern. Now is the time for faith (St. Augustine of Hippo).

 

The voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord, make straight the paths of our God. This makes clear that the events spoken of in the prophecy are to take place not in Jerusalem, but in the wilderness. By this is meant that the glory of the Lord will appear, and the salvation of God will be made known to all flesh. This prophecy was fulfilled historically and literally, when John the Baptist preached the saving advent of God, in the wilderness by the Jordan, where the salvation of God was in fact seen. For Christ and his glory became known to all when, after he had been baptized, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit came down under the appearance of a dove, and rested upon him. Then was the Father’s voice heard in testimony to the Son: This is my Son, my Beloved; listen to him! These things were said because God was about to come to the wilderness, which had been impenetrable and inaccessible for a whole age. For all the nations were empty of the knowledge of God: access to them had been prohibited to all the people of God and the prophets. That was why that voice ordered a way to be prepared for the Word of God, and the pathless and rugged lands levelled, so that at his coming, our God might find the road clear for his advance. Prepare the way of the Lord: this is the Gospel preaching, the new consolation, the ardent desire that the salvation of God come to the knowledge of all people (Eusebius of Caesarea).

 

The Lord is love; his coming show him as love most singular, the love that gives itself most freely, the love that is God’s alone: agape. Because he is agape, he comes, and because his coming is agape it is judgement. His mere presence passes judgment on the evil in us because that presence is love, because evil is its opposite. Love sets free the powers of redeemed life, the love of God given to us. What faith and baptism had grounded in us and sin restricted can grow and develop once more. “Our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” The judgement which this coming of Christ in the Mystery brings can cause the growth of our redemption until the other judgement give it completion. So the Church goes joyfully into Advent, “look up, and lift up your heads; it means that the time draws near for your deliverance (Emiliana Lohr).

 

The Savior, then, who is coming to us is the clothing which we are to put on over our spiritual nakedness. Here let us admire the goodness of our God, who, remembering that we hid ourselves after our sin, because we were naked, promises himself to become our clothing, and to cover with his Divinity the misery of human nature. Let us, therefore, be on the watch for the day and the hour when he will come to us, and take precautions against the drowsiness which comes of custom and self-indulgence.  The light will soon appear; may its first rays be witness of our innocence, or at least of our repentance (Prosper Gueranger).

 

The desire of old was sustained solely by hope, but it is now a confident desire, founded on the consoling reality of the Redemption already accomplished. Although historically completed [twenty] centuries ago, this longing should be actualized daily, renewed in ever deeper and fuller reality in every Christian soul. The spirit of the Advent liturgy, commemorating  the age-long expectation of the Redeemer, will prepare us to celebrate the mystery of the Word made flesh by arousing in each one of us an intimate, personal expectation of the renewed coming of Christ to our soul. This coming is accomplished by grace; to the degree in which grace develops and matures in us, it becomes more copious, more penetrating, until it transforms the soul into an alter Christus (Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene).

 

The season of Advent is like springtime in nature, when everything is renewed and so is fresh and healthy. Advent is also meant to do this to us--to refresh us and make us healthy, to be able to receive Christ in whatever form he may come to us” (St. Teresa of Calcutta).

 

One day we shall have to “raise our heads” and look into the face of him who comes as the Son of Man, for he is after all the God of eternity. And from his countenance all will look at us: all those around us through whom we were good or guilty. A voice will come from the mouth: What you did—or did not—do the least of my brethren. That voice from the face will not die away and will fill our eternity from end to end. Shall we be able to raise our heads with the confidence of the forgiven and the living toward that face of the Son of Man? (Karl Rahner)

 

Homily

 

SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT (A)

        Readings: Is. 11:1-10; Rm. 15:4-9; Mt. 3:1-12

 

Enduring Freedom

 

            Faryab.  Culiacan.  Idlib.  Marib.   Ever heard of these places?  We North Amer­icans might be hard-pressed to pronounce some of these places or find them on a map of the world.  They’re in Afghanistan, Mexico, Syria and Yemen respectively, where ongoing armed conflicts have claimed an estimated 90,000 lives this year alone. The relative peace and prosperity we enjoy makes it hard to imagine, and easy to forget, the suffering of untold thousands across the globe – though Americans are often chastened in such views given the 370 mass shootings as of the end of October claiming well over 400 lives. 

            And while we are more likely to feel the impact of personal tragedies like family strife, economic hardship and political upheaval, I know many of us have a broader focus that includes the other ills afflicting our country: the plight of the homeless, the threatened immigrant, victims of hate crimes, those subject to a rising tide of racism, misogyny and religious bigotry, the deteriorating environment. Tragedies like these concern those with a social, and not merely personal, conscience.  Truth is, however, we are responsible not only for the home front, but for all of humanity: no matter the helplessness we might feel over the magnitude of problems con­fronting not just individuals and the nation but, yes, the world. 

            And the liturgy itself asks us to adopt such a global perspective.  Like the prophet Isaiah’s panoramic vista who foresaw a day when the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord: when David’s offspring shall be set up as a signal for the nations, a light the Gentiles shall seek out (I). The scriptures widen narrow paths of mind and heart like the Pharisees who boasted, We have Abraham as our father, as if to say to hell with the rest.  Funny how John thought they were the chaff and not the wheat, unprepared for the Day of the Messiah:

            The Day when the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb: the Israeli with the Palestinian, the Turk with the Kurd . And the leopard shall lie down with the kid: the Saudi with the Yemeni.  When the cow and the bear shall be neighbors: the Ukrainian with the Russian.  Together their young shall rest. [And] the lion shall eat hay like the ox: the Somalian and Sudanese like the well-fed Amer­ican. When the baby shall play by the cobra’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair: the weakest members of our society feeling safe again.  For there shall be no harm or ruin on all God’s holy mountain (cf. I).

            Such a vision could make Paul say: Whatever was written previously was written for our instruction, that by endurance and by the encourage­ment of the scriptures we might have hope (II).  Advent hope, that is: hope that all the tragedies of human history, forgotten and unforgotten, will be healed on the Day Christ returns.

            So Advent does not cater to the sentiment that often saps Christmas of its power to restore confidence, and encourage the fainthearted.  This season is not only about tinsel and colored lights on artificial trees.  It’s about those who set out in haste to meet [God’s] Son, (Cf. Collect).  For Advent is the true “Operation Enduring Freedom” -- the code name for the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan, now in its 18th year.   Rather,  it is the Christ who came to free us from every anguished cry in the night.  Which is why Paul’s blessing can be our own this Advent, as we wait on God to confirm the promises made to Jew and Gentile alike: May the God of endurance and encouragement grant [us] to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus, that with one accord [we] may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (II)  Now and forever.  Amen.