2nd Sunday of Advent Reflection by Deacon Tim Sullivan

On this 2nd Sunday of Advent, we have John calling for repentance. I imagine if we saw John preaching today, we might be put off a bit. He wore animal skins, didn’t bathe, and existed on locus and honey. When he preached, he didn’t mince words. He was direct and to the point. In today’s reading, he is preaching “repent.” Repent from your sins. This message was being spread by him through the entire region of Judea. Michael Simone, S.J. who teaches in the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College says “John’s apocalyptic preaching was popular. Many longed for an end to the world’s disorder. Sin had poisoned politics, economics, law and everyday social interactions.”

Does that sound familiar? I find it amazing that after 2000 years we are still left longing for an end to the world’s disorder. At one point, I checked and found that there have only been four years when a war hasn’t been raging since the time of Christ. Just imagine, over 2000 years with only four years of peace. In our society today, we ignore the teachings of Christ and of the Old Testament and shun and disrespect the foreigner and the refugee, castigate the poor, and show no love for our brothers and sisters. It’s gotten to the point that it has split families causing hard feelings, distrust, and contentiousness anytime a family is gathered. This year at Thanksgiving, I went to my daughter’s in-laws who are very kind, genuine people. But even in that atmosphere I had to promise not to bring up anything that was political (we are on two opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to that topic).

Advent is a time to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. We wait anxiously for Christmas and all that it brings. Unlike Lent, which focuses on repentance, Advent focuses on preparation. Preparation of our souls for the coming of Christ. In Christmas we celebrate his first coming, and, hopefully, we’re eagerly waiting for his second coming and will be prepared for it. If we’re living as Christ taught, we don’t have to worry. St. Augustine put it nicely: “If you paid attention to Christ’s first coming you don’t have to worry about his second coming.

How do we best prepare for this second coming of Christ? One good way is to put away petty differences, which split us now. Pray that our politics and economics don’t get in the way of loving our neighbor (whoever and wherever they are) and following Christ’s teachings. Jesus preached and taught to love the poor, love the stranger, love the lonely, love those in prison, and love those who are sick and infirm. 

Let us all make this Advent as a special one, an Advent which might be our last. In the total scope of things, politics and economics won’t get us to heaven. Following Christ’s teachings will. We’re extremely fortunate in this parish. We have so many parishioners who support our Christmas festivities, from the celebration of the liturgy to the Jesse Tree to our Annual Homeless Christmas Dinner.  This is truly a place that places Christ first. Because of this, we have an additional burden, the burden of going out and by our words and (but mostly by) our actions to spread exactly what this season truly means to all we come in contact with—coworkers, friends and families.

Let me leave you with an Irish Advent Prayer:

Jesus, my Lord, as you brought light into the darkness
of an old and weary world, light and youth and energy,
guide me through this dark and dreary time of the year
and bring me to the joys of Christmas and the promise
of spring to come with a heart filled with laughter and
love. I ask this of the Father in your name.
Amen