Second Sunday of Advent – Year B: Is 40:1-5, 9-11, Ps 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14, 2 Pt 3:8-14, Mk 1:1-8
I recently celebrated one of those milestone birthdays — 60 years old. I still remember what 14 felt like when I went to the high school seminary with the Redemptorists. I remember what it felt like when I left the seminary to go to law school when I was 26, and what it felt like when I left law to return to the seminary at 32. I am now on the verge of celebrating 25 years of priesthood.
Why this trip down memory lane? Because I can remember on this path that led to priesthood there were times when I wondered if I would ever see the day of my ordination.
When we are in the midst of the journey, we can get impatient about the journey’s end. Yet from the point of view of my 60-year-old self, it can all seem like yesterday.
Each Advent we call to mind again our of the final coming of the Lord Jesus Christ at the end of time. Now, 2,000 years after the first coming of the Lord, it is understandable if our expectation of that definitive coming is something less than imminent in our hearts and minds.
Yet each year, we hear the voice of the Church encouraging us on the way: “Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.” Although each year has its joys and sorrows, the Lord’s command to offer comfort to his people seems particularly appropriate this year.
That word of comfort also comes with the encouragement not to lose heart and confidence in the promise of the Lord’s coming: “Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God.”
If there have been twists and turns to this year that have caused our faith life to lose its edge or we have begun living our life without God truly being at the center of everything, Advent is the appropriate time to listen to the herald of the Lord crying out his glad tidings: “Here comes with power the Lord God, who rules by his strong arm.”
One of the reasons to go down memory lane each year in Advent is to see that the promises God made to his people in the Old Testament have been fulfilled in the New Testament. Isaiah’s prophecy would only be fulfilled in the coming of Jesus Christ and his herald John the Baptist.
From the perspective of those who lived in the time in between, it must have felt like they would never live to see the day of the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. Yet it was fulfilled — and fulfilled in a way beyond anyone’s imagining.
In the same way, we live in the time in between the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy and Jesus’ promise of his definitive coming. We can be tempted to grow weary, cold in our faith and overwhelmed by the problems of the day. But God will fulfill his word just as he has in the past.
Remember the words of St. Paul from today’s readings: “[T]hat with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day.”
In that calculation, we are only two days after the Lord’s promise of the new heaven and the new earth. He will fulfill his promise soon. Take up Advent’s call that we be ready in mind and heart for his coming.
Msgr. Timothy Keeney is pastor of Incarnation, Charlottesville.