by Fr. Tommy Lane
This season of Advent is a time of grace for us. It is a time of grace given to us to prepare our hearts so that we are ready to receive Christ at Christmas. That is what Christmas is all about, Jesus. We do not want to get lost in the frenzy of the run up to Christmas and forget what Christmas is all about. Advent is a time of grace to remind us that Jesus is the reason for Christmas. We have just heard the beginning of the Gospel of Mark which reminded us of the prophecy of Isaiah fulfilled in John the Baptist,
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’ (Mark 1:2-3)
The season of Advent is like John the Baptist now, crying out to us to prepare. ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’ (Mark 1:3)
Prepare for what? The focus of the first half of Advent each year is preparing for the Second Coming of Jesus. The Church longs for the Second Coming of Jesus because it will be Christ’s victory over all evil and Christ’s triumph in the world. We do not believe in a Millennium or reign of Christ on earth for one thousand years as others do. We believe such thinking is a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the Book of Revelation (Rev 20). Instead we believe the Millennium or thousand years of the Book of Revelation is a metaphor referring to the entire span of the Church between Christ’s two comings – the time from Christ’s first coming as a baby at Bethlehem to his Second Coming as Judge at the end of time. The Catechism of the Catholic Church §676 says it is a deception of the Antichrist “every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment.”
While we do not believe in a one thousand year reign of Christ on earth we certainly believe Christ will come again and want to do all we can to bring about Christ’s kingdom here. In two of the Eucharistic Acclamations we profess our faith in Jesus’ Second Coming:
We proclaim your Death, O Lord,
and profess your Resurrection
until you come again.
When we eat this bread and drink this cup,
we proclaim your death, O Lord,
until you come in glory.
In the Creed which we profess every Sunday we proclaim:
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.
The early part of Advent every year encourages us to reflect on the Second Coming of Jesus and to long for it because then Christ will triumph and all evil will be destroyed and God’s plans will finally be accomplished.
We have been waiting two thousand years for Jesus’ Second Coming but the second reading reminds us that for God that is only like days because time for us is very different to time in eternity,
“with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day” (2 Pet 3:8)
This time waiting for Jesus to come again, this Advent of two thousand years already, is a time of grace for us so that we can prepare our hearts and do what we can to bring about God’s kingdom. The second reading reminds us that this extended time, this long Advent, before Jesus comes again has been given to us because God is patient, “not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Pet 3:9)
What is to be our attitude as we wait? The second reading advises to be,
“conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God” (2 Pet 3:11-12)
And the reading concluded,
Therefore, beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace. (2 Pet 3:14)
We spent the month of November praying for the souls in purgatory, (See homilies for Nov 2nd - All Souls) those who did have their hearts fully prepared when called from this life. During this Advent let us prepare our hearts for Christ by turning away from sin and evil and giving ourselves completely to God so that when Christ comes, or when we are called from this life, we are ready and prepared. What better way of doing this than making a very good confession receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation?
‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’ (Mark 1:3)
Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2008
More homilies for the Second Sunday of Advent Year B
Related Homilies: God is Offering You a Grace this Advent - Don’t miss out on it!