Second Sunday of Advent
Waiting is the hard part. The whole season of Advent has a forward movement as we wait for what Scriptures call the fullness of time. That term is vague enough to leave us wondering what it truly means and yet the word fullness suggests powerful images. Think of the contented smile of a young woman soon to give birth or the rich variety of all-natural growing things reaching that peak perfection and their own unique maturity. What started out as tentative and fragile has somehow passed through stages of weakness to be able to share good things with others. This produces an inner joy and excitement much like the joy of harvest.
Today’s readings capture that theme of joy and expectation as they point out that something new and different has emerged with the passage of time. Jerusalem, the personification of God’s faithful is invited to throw off the signs and attitude of suffering because a new era has come. It’s time, at last, to put on festal robes and join the dance of all created things, announcing that a new kind of abundant life has appeared on the earth.
As always, our reflection on the Scriptures, especially those concepts of God’s abundant overflowing care for us, has the biggest impact when we can read them in the faces and reactions of people. People make it real for us. St. Paul gives us what we would today call a “selfie” in the second reading. Where could you find a clearer expression of what the overflowing presence of Jesus means to him than his greeting and concern for his community at Philippi? He can hardly restrain his joy as he prays that the Risen Lord will continue to move them, day-by-day, to full completion.
In the Gospel, we have another “selfie” of someone, namely John the Baptist, proclaiming the notion of fullness. He bridges the vision of hope begun by Isaiah to its full perfection in the person of Jesus. Imagine valleys filled and mountains leveled, proclaims John the Baptist because nothing less would be adequate to receive the Promised one.
So, what do we do with these wonderful promises as we go through Advent? What is our deepest desire or emptiness crying out to be filled? If we can name it, the answer has already begun.
Reflection by Fr. Daniel Petsche, OSB