St. Thomas asserts that the Christian mystery is always three dimensional: memory of the past, presence of grace, expectation of eternal fulfilment. Last Sunday, the First Sunday of Advent, we Christians brought to mind the joyful and wonderful fact, the memory, that the historical coming of Christ has happened – to save His people and the nations, as Isaiah says in the Entrance Antiphon today. Our celebration this Sunday focuses on the presence of Jesus in us, of the constant coming of Jesus in our lives and of His coming at the end of time.
The prophet Baruch invites the people in Babylon, and us, to put away the sorrow and distress of the past. Advent is not a sad time. All the lights and decorations which beautify our streets and cities at this time are a sign, an expectation, that something joyful is going to happen.
St. Paul directs our attention to the second coming, when the Day of Christ comes, and the necessity to prepare for this coming, by our constant love for each other and by improving our knowledge and understanding of what is best.
Today we are introduced to John the Baptist, that strong, untiring Prophet who went through the whole region of the River Jordan proclaiming a Baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. St Luke does not call John,´the Baptist´. He wants to emphasise that John was the great sign that the revelation of God to the world was about to happen in a surprising and unprecedented way. John, the Voice, is telling us to prepare a way for the Word , Jesus, and this message is for us, this Advent, to prepare for His coming to us now, and this Christmas.
In the Gospel, Luke quotes the prophet Isaiah on how to prepare: make straight the crooked ways of our lives, our sinfulness, our own preoccupations or about our ministries and social activities, that the valleys, mountains and hills, winding ways, and all the rough passages of our lives – of illness, deaths of our loved ones. It is The Holy Spirit of God in us who will straighten out the craggy slopes and tortuous ways, and make our steps more secure. The coming of Jesus to our world is to facilitate our way to our Loving Father. In Jesus, we have someone to look at, identify with and imitate. Like Our Lady, as she journeyed over the hills and valleys to be with her cousin Elizabeth, joyfully awaiting the birth of her child with ineffable love, we will ask her to be with us in our preparation as we pray the Rosary each day. A very good way to reflect on how best to renew and challenge ourselves is to read Our Lord´s words, the Beatitudes, which Pope Francis reflected on so beautifully in his Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate – Rejoice and be Glad. Let us fill our days of Advent with genuine love for each other and for whoever comes our way.
Sr. Aedris Coates OP