The Second Sunday of Advent
If John the Baptist were to appear in our sophisticated society today, I wonder how much credibility he would have. If we were to encounter him, would we take his words seriously, or would we find him rather bizarre and maybe even humorous? And yet, his message is as important today as it was when the crowds were going out to the desert to judge for themselves whether this man was indeed a prophet sent from God.
John was in preaching a message that the old was giving way to the new; that God was making something new on this earth; and that people should prepare the way for God by turning away from their sins. John was preaching metanoia, or conversion.
What does this conversion look like? It looks like the vision of Isaiah found in our first reading. There all of creation lives in peace. The ruler will judge with justice and right-judgment and not abuse his power. The needs of the poor and disadvantaged will be addressed. Symbolically, animals, that formerly were predators, will now lie down together in harmony. And all creation will have knowledge of God. That will not be an intellectual knowledge, but a knowledge that comes from experiencing God’s love and mercy.
In short, John and Isaiah call us to be Advent people. We are called to be people who are not content with the world as it is, but who are committed to working for the world as it should be.
When I was at the seminary, at morning prayer each day of Advent we took turns offering a reflection of someone who was an Advent person to us. Those reflections included people like Martin Luther King Jr., Catherine of Siena, Desmond Tutu, Thomas Merton, Rosa Parks, Francis of Assisi, the four martyred women of El Salvador. They were all people who spoke God’s words and brought the world a little closer to reflecting the vision of Isaiah.
Today we are called upon to reflect on what we need to do this Advent to make ready the way of the Lord in our lives. Advent begins in reflection and moves to action; it begins in our hearts, but must involve our actions.
Meister Eckhart, the medieval mystic puts it this way: What good is it for Christ to have been born so many years ago, if he is not born again this year in my heart?
Fr. Larry Snyder
Vice President for Mission