December 7th, 2014 – Second Sunday of Advent – Year B

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A scant eight days into Advent, the liturgy brims with hope: “Comfort, give comfort to my people,” cries the prophet Isaiah in the First Reading. “Here comes with power the Lord God.” Earlier in Isaiah’s prophecy, we hear the familiar Advent call: “In the desert prepare the way of the Lord!”

The liturgy doesn’t yet allow us to look toward Bethlehem; Advent still resists our culture’s quick transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas. On the contrary, the Gospel Reading points us not to Mary’s newborn, but to the adult Christ through his messenger., John the Baptist. In John, we see the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of the one who will prepare the Lord’s way, and in John’s baptism of repentance we are reminded of our own baptism and, perhaps, our failure to live it fully. Yet, we also remember the power of our baptism to make us ready for the Holy Spirit Christ brings.

The Second Reading, however, directs us to the end of time once more, and we are faced with a classic Christian dilemma: How are we to live today as we await the “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells”? Wisdom and discernment are key, responds the liturgy, as we pray after Communion to “judge wisely the things of earth and hold firm to the things of heaven” and in the Collect “that no earthly undertaking hinder those who set out in haste to meet [Christ].”