This season of Advent is a time of grace for us. It is a time given to us to prepare our hearts so that we are ready to receive Christ at Christmas. That is what Christmas is all about, Jesus. We do not want to get lost in the frenzy of the run up to Christmas and forget what Christmas is really all about. Advent is thus a time of grace to remind us that Jesus is the reason for this season. The season of Advent is like John the Baptist now, crying out to us to prepare. ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’ (Mark 1:3)
Prepare for what? The focus of the first half of Advent each year is preparing for the Second Coming of Jesus. The Church longs for the Second Coming of Jesus because it will be Christ’s victory over all evil and Christ’s triumph in the world.
Today’s readings remind us that the past, present and future comings of Jesus into the world are the fulfillment of the saving plan of God. Today’s Scripture readings deal with coming home – Babylonian exiles coming home, the shalom or perfect peace of coming home, our going home with Jesus at his second coming and Jesus, the Savior, coming home into our lives during Advent.
All three readings focus on the absolute necessity of our readying ourselves by repentance and preparation for Christ’s coming. In the first reading, Isaiah assures his people that the Lord will restore their homeland to them and care for them as a shepherd cares for the sheep.
Today’s Responsorial Psalm also speaks of the return of shalom (perfect peace), and pardon to the people.
The second reading gives an answer to those who scoff at the expectation of the second coming of Christ, explaining that God’s way of reckoning time is different from ours and that God has His own reasons for delaying Christ’s second coming. Peter gives us the assurance that Jesus is sure to come again although we do not know when. Hence, while we wait, we should be leading lives of holiness and godliness.
God did not intend to make a few cosmetic changes by sending Christ into the world. God intended nothing less than to change the whole dynamics of human character. That’s why each Advent we encounter this strange character, John the Baptist, with his ‘call to repentance’. The Gospel tells us that the restoration of the fallen world has already begun, starting with the arrival of John the Baptist, the messenger and forerunner of the Messiah. John speaks of one, more powerful than he – Jesus Christ – who will baptize us with the Holy Spirit. Each of us has received the gift of the Holy Spirit in Baptism, and now we live in the Spirit each day, waiting for the return of our Lord. Thus, we become John the Baptist's successors, preparing for Christ's return which will bring a new and perfect world.
Do we need to receive God's forgiveness?
Is there someone we need to forgive today? Let us not allow what others have done destroy our life. We can't be forgiven unless we forgive. Let us let go of that bitterness and allow God to work healing in our life.