Second Sunday of Advent
In the collect for today’s Mass, we pray: “Almighty and merciful God, may no earthly undertaking hinder those who set out in haste to meet your Son.” An earlier version put it this way asking God to “remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy.”
Both versions get at something basic about the days of Advent. We are focused on meeting Jesus Christ. There is a sense of urgency even about it as the collect states referring to our setting out “in haste to meet” the savior. And the older version makes it clear: we seek to receive Jesus – with JOY. Thus, we ask that our efforts hasten to meet the Lord, and with great Joy.
We speak of the season of Advent as a time of waiting, watching, being alert, as well as a time of hope. Remember that the Chosen People had been exiled to Babylon and longed to be restored to their Promised Land, Jerusalem, and to resume their rituals of worshipping the God of the covenant. Isaiah is the prophet who stirs the hopes of the people during those bleak years. He speaks of that coming return, that they would indeed be restored to their native land and rightful worship of God. Isaiah raises their hopes.
“Comfort, give comfort to my people.”
“Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight a highway for our God.”
“The Glory of the Lord shall be revealed.”
Centuries later, John the Baptist takes up those words of Isaiah in a new context. “Prepare the way of the Lord. Make straight his paths.” John’s mission was clearly to point out Christ.
Advent can be a time to rekindle our hope in the Lord’s promises, promises made centuries ago.
“I will be your God, you will be my people.”
“I will be with you to deliver you.”
Let nothing hinder those who set out to meet the Lord or interfere with receiving the Christ with JOY. As we move to the second week of Advent, we seek to find the ways that the words of ancient prophets, the Gospels, and the words of John the Baptist and Isaiah speak to us today. We do not know exile, the pain of being uprooted, losing our freedom to worship and live peacefully with others. But this year we are presented with something very different in the pandemic that has plagued the world since early in March.
It has disrupted the lives of many, brought economic hardships to people everywhere, sent many to hospitals, and taken the lives of many. This is the situation of our world this year, along with the divisions that persist in many places even throughout this country. We still live in a world waiting to be delivered from all that would harm us.
This year’s taste of redemption, of deliverance, naturally includes the situation of our world. As followers of Jesus, we are looking for renewed HOPE. We are seeking LIGHT to show us the way. We are seeking a way, the way of the Lord, the way to the Lord. Come, Lord Jesus. Do not delay.
Reflection by Fr. Peter Ullrich, OSB