Second Sunday of Advent
December 4, 2016
Reading 1 Is 11:1-10
Responsorial Psalm Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
- (cf. 7) Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
Reading 2 Rom 15:4-9
Alleluia Lk 3:4, 6
- Alleluia, alleluia.
Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths:
all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
Gospel Mt 3:1-12
- 3-4 December 2016 Don’t get too comfortable
- Second Sunday of Advent
During this time of year it is easy to be overwhelmed by the sights and
sounds of the Christmas season. From the ringing of the Salvation Army
bells to the bright Christmas lights, our senses can become saturated and
make it difficult to find peace.
In our Gospel this weekend, the people that came out to hear John the
Baptist preach may have been overwhelmed as well. John’s appearance
would have brought to mind Elijah, an Old Testament prophet who also
wore camel’s hair and a leather belt. Like Elijah, John’s preaching would
have gotten their attention.
Israel had been without a prophet for 400yrs and the people may have
been getting a little too comfortable. John’s message of repentance would
have shaken things up. He attracted people from all Judea and the whole
region around the Jordan River. People were going out to hear him speak
and to be baptized as they acknowledged their sins.
This Gospel message is very appropriate for us during this season of
Advent. Advent, like Lent, is a time of preparation. It is a chance to prepare
ourselves spiritually for Christmas.
To help us prepare for Christmas during this 2nd week in Advent I have a
question we can think about:
Are we too comfortable in our faith life? X2
During this Advent season, let us take some time to make sure our faith
journey is progressing and headed in the right direction.
The metaphor I like for this topic is the frog in a pot of water. You may
have heard this one: If a frog is dropped into a pot of boiling water it will
jump out to save its life. If the frog is put in a pot of warm water and the
water is slowly heated, the frog will not notice the increasing temperature
and will be cooked to death.
How do we know if we have slowly detoured on our faith journey and
are heading in the wrong direction?
How can we discern if a stalled faith journey has put us in hot water?
For a quick assessment, we can look for signs of the Holy Spirit working in
our life. When we are actively living our faith, we should experience love,
joy and peace. These are fruits of the Holy Spirit from St. Paul’s letter to
the Galatians. Experiencing these in our lives can be a sign we are headed
in the right direction.
If we are headed in the wrong direction our behavior may include
increasing amounts of immorality, anger and selfishness. If changing this
behavior is beyond our comfort zone, we may be sitting in very warm water
and the devil will continue to turn up the heat.
If this review uncovers some gaps like it did for me I have some
suggestions for 2017. Advent is the beginning of the Church year and good
time for resolutions. Here are 3 to consider:
The 1st resolution is to UNDERSTAND OUR FAITH BETTER. Depending
on your experience with Catholic education, this may be a little intimidating
but definitely worth the effort. We need to avoid the temptation of being a
“cafeteria Catholic” where we pick and choose which parts of the faith we
believe. If there is something about the Catholic faith that troubles us, we
should try to understand it better. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and
consider joining one of the Catholic study groups in Dubuque. There are
many great resources available but one of the best places to start may be
the Catechism of the Catholic Church. If you don’t have the 2nd edition, you
may want to put it on your Christmas list.
The 2nd resolution is to FIND A NEW WAY TO SHARE OUR FAITH. We
can’t all preach like John the Baptist but all of us are called to witness our
faith in the way we live. We may all already have good examples in this
area but this resolution is to find a new way to share our faith in 2017. Is
there someone you know who has fallen away from the faith that needs a
friendly invitation to come back to church? Can we find a new way to share
our time and talent by singing in the choir, joining a committee like St.
Vincent de Paul or serving meals to people in need?
My 3rd and last resolution for 2017 is to MAKE OUR FAITH MORE
ACCOUNTABLE. Making our faith accountable brings us back to the
Gospel message of repentance from John the Baptist. One way for us to
live this Gospel message is to go to Reconciliation before Christmas.
Another way to make our faith accountable is with prayer. If you have
trouble finding quality time for prayer…find a prayer partner or group and
be sure to schedule a time to pray each day.
So we have 3 resolutions to better help us prepare this Advent season:
1. UNDERSTAND OUR FAITH BETTER
2. FIND A NEW WAY TO SHARE OUR FAITH.
3. MAKE OUR FAITH MORE ACCOUNTABLE.
Let us make the best use of this time during Advent to prepare ourselves
to welcome the Christ Child into our hearts at Christmas.