December 6, 2020 The Second Sunday of Advent (Cycle B)
The tie in between today’s readings: It’s All About Timing
The great thing about being a prophet is that you can jump timelines. In today’s Old Testament reading, the clairvoyant Isaiah reports back from the future:
“Comfort, comfort My people,” says your God.
2 “Speak kindly to Jerusalem;
And call out to her, that her warfare has ended,
That her guilt has been removed,
That she has received of the Lord’s hand
Double for all her sins.” (Isaiah 40:1-2)
This is great news! The war is finally over or will be! What war? Well, the conflict that has been waging throughout human history between Truth and Righteousness vs. Grace and Peace, of course. God has found a way to resolve His Righteous character that must punish sin with His Grace that wants to forgive. The fate of mankind was hanging in the balance. As we see in our reading in Psalm 85:10, the Lord did it!
Graciousness and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
But wait! How do these verses link and relate to us? There is an immediate connection that follows with these sections that point to a common event. Psalm 85:13:
Righteousness will go before Him
And will make His footsteps into a way.
And the more familiar Isaiah 40:3-4:
3 The voice of one calling out,
“Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness;
Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Let every valley be lifted up,
And every mountain and hill be made low;
And let the uneven ground become a plain,
And the rugged terrain a broad valley
Now, C’mon. It wouldn’t be Advent without John the Baptist!
Our gospel in Mark 1:1-8 opens up with the quote from Isaiah 40:3-4 on John’s mission to prepare the way of the Lord. After four hundred years without any message from God, John the Baptist was proof that the Almighty was on the move. A noble and powerful King was coming. Someone so high up the ladder that even John, that great messenger, wasn’t even fit to untie His shoes. If you thought water baptism was important, this prophesied One baptizes with the Holy Spirit! So, prepare! Confess! Repent! The Master is coming! The battle to save mankind will begin. In this war, you want to be sure that you are on the right side.
Jesus Christ was successful in redeeming the human race back to the Father. As the Lamb of God, His sacrifice reconciled God’s holiness with His mercy. Judgement and condemnation for sins are no longer man’s only destiny. There is another way. By faith in the blood of Christ, your personal guilt can be taken away. Give your sins to Jesus and you’ll receive forgiveness in its place. But there is a time stamp on it. Our reading in Isaiah 40:6-8 continues with a commentary that, like flowers that fade and grass that withers, our lives are short. Most likely, shorter than we think. Don’t put off your second conversion (CCC 1427-1433). Give your life to Christ. Make today your day of salvation. Our epistle in 2 Peter 3:8-14 backs this up with a sober warning.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because the predictions about the end of the world and Judgement Day haven’t happened yet, that they never will. God’s timing is not your timing. A day…a thousand years, it’s all the same to Him. When you’re eternal and have all the time in the world, you can be patient. St. Peter is saying that it may seem that God is delaying, but He is really holding off and giving you as much time as He can for you to repent. Don’t fool with this. One day God is going to let the atoms fly and the whole universe will dissolve in a gigantic fireball. Then it’s just you and the Almighty.
Our last section in Isaiah 40:9-11 shoots us ahead in time to Judgement Day. In verse 9, the shout goes out, “Here is your God!” But what kind of God will you be facing? There is God the Judge, who will give a perfect and impartial verdict on how you lived your life and the sins you committed. He knows all and every idle word will come under His scrutiny. It won’t be pretty. In the other verses, we see Jesus as the King of Kings coming with His rewards for His good and faithful servants and as the Good Shepherd taking His flock home.
It’s time to choose. Will you go your own way? Live your life according to your rules and philosophy? Will you roll the dice and take your chances on the day of reckoning? Will you ignore Jesus this Advent? He gave His life to open a way back to the Father for us. He fought the battle and overcame sin and death so we all could have eternal life. He sits today at the right hand of God in constant intercession for His believing people. How will you respond to God’s gift to us this Christmas? The war, my friend, is over…time to pick a side.