We are going to celebrate the Second Sunday of Advent this coming Sunday. Our readings are: Baruch 5: 1-9, Philippians 1: 4-6, 8-11, Luke 3: 1-6. The first reading is from Baruch, a book that is not included in the Protestant Bible. Many Protestant bibles will include it and call it “apocryphal.” Catholics will include it and 11 others and call them “deuterocanonical” books.
Last Sunday, this Sunday and next Sunday the gospel reading will feature John the Baptist, calling for a reform of life and pointing out the one coming after him. This week we hear about his baptism of repentance. He baptized “to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins.”. And John was compared to Isaiah the prophet who was ” a voice crying out in the wilderness: prepare the way of The Lord; make his paths straight. Every valley will be filled, and every mountain and hill will be leveled. The crooked will be made straight and the rough places made smooth. All humanity will see God’s salvation.”
And Baruch, hundreds of years before John, like Isaiah, preached the same message from God: ” take off your mourning clothes and oppression, Jerusalem! Wrap the justice that comes from God around yourself like a robe. Get up, Jerusalem! Stand on the high place, and look around to the east! See your children gathered from the west to the east by the holy one’s word, as they rejoice that God has remembered them.
And Baruch ends the book by proclaiming that ” God will lead Israel with gladness by the light that shines forth from his glory, with the mercy and righteousness that comes from him.”
All of us who claim “Christian” as our name have these same promises uttered by Isaiah and Baruch. We must be clothed in justice and righteousness and see our own lives as prophetic too. It is our turn, no matter how our own lives may be going, to preach the good news of peace and justice and to work hard to make it happen.
Paul reminds us in the reading from the Philippians: we are partners with him in spreading the gospel. And our spreading the gospel might not be with words! As St. Francis said: ” preach the gospel always….and if necessary use words.”
We prepare for the coming of The Lord by doing justice, by working for peace even though we sometimes feel the futility of our work. People who are hurting today count on us. Not that we think we are the messiah, but that we know the Messiah lives within us and is urging us on to make his peaceful rule come, on earth as it is in heaven.
Look around, brothers and sisters and see how you are fulfilling the words of Paul from this next Sunday’s reading from Philippians: ” I am sure about this: the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job. You are all my partners in God’s grace.”