December 6, 2023 at 9:33 a.m.

The second week of Advent brings comfort and hope!

God comes in great humility and love to be among us and to save us. The good news is the arrival of the King of Glory — Jesus the Christ.
WORD OF FAITH: A breakdown of each week's upcoming Sunday readings to better understand the Word of God at Mass.
WORD OF FAITH: A breakdown of each week's upcoming Sunday readings to better understand the Word of God at Mass.

By Sister Linda Neil, CSJ | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

This second Sunday of Advent proclaims comfort and hope! However, we might miss that message from Isaiah because we quickly read ahead to the voice in the wilderness and the connection to John the Baptist. Let’s linger for a moment on comfort.

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”— Isaiah 40:9-11

Isaiah 40-56 is called the Book of Consolation. The Jewish people have been languishing in Babylon. Now, the royal decree of Cyrus has freed the people from their bondage and they are able to go home to Jerusalem. Isaiah announces this good news of freedom from exile and how the people have been released from the bonds of guilt and the sins of their past. So Isaiah 40:1-2 offers comfort and tenderness to a weary, forlorn people. This message of “good news” continues in verse 9 — the Holy One comes with great might and fanfare — to act as a good shepherd, gathering and gently leading the people home and kindling hope in their hearts.

These verses form bookends around the voice crying in the wilderness — “Prepare the way!” The Lord of Glory is coming! Do what seems impossible: fill valleys, level mountains, smooth out rough places! In the ancient world when a king was to make a royal visit great preparations were made. Roads were repaired and anything or anyone unsightly or disturbing was removed. But Israel’s God can do more than this! All of creation enters into the groundwork of preparing the way for this glorious King. All peoples can enter into the glad tidings of God’s care. In the context of the Holy One’s great mercy, forgiveness, compassion and gentleness, the proclamation is made — the good news goes forth! Comfort and hope are the lavish gifts God is always extending.

So when we connect this proclamation to the voice of John the Baptist crying out in the wilderness, we have found the deep meaning of Advent. God comes in great humility and love to be among us and to save us. The good news is the arrival of the King of Glory — Jesus the Christ.

In order to fully receive this loving mercy, we need to prepare our hearts and spirits. Many of the people who went out to hear John were trying to be open to God’s word. It wasn’t easy because John was a bit of a strange messenger (camel’s hair and locusts, really?). John’s message was repentance, asking the people to acknowledge their sins and turn back to God. This call is an invitation for the people to renew their friendship with God, to turn to God’s mercy and comfort.

The call is extended to us as we continue our Advent journey. We are invited to immerse ourselves in God’s tender love, to bask in the warmth and light of God’s compassion. We need to pause and reflect on the comfort the Holy One is always extending, to experience the arms of the Shepherd around us. If we begin our day in this awareness, we can bring this thread through the day with a mantra like, “Comfort, give comfort to my people …” or “Shepherd me, O God …” We know that this love impels us to live with integrity, to acknowledge our sins and to repent by doing deeds of loving kindness for others. Our friendship with God opens us to see the needs and burdens of others and moves us, like a caring shepherd, to do what we can to aid and comfort our dear neighbor.

This wonderful flow of love comes from the heart of Jesus the Christ. In Sunday’s Gospel, Mark makes the primary proclamation: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus is the face of the Triune God who is always extending the gifts of grace and loving kindness. The gift of Advent is that we can give ourselves time and space to contemplate this love and ignite it in our lives!


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