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Sunday Readings

Commentary and Reflections

2nd Sunday of Advent B


December 7, 2014
In preparation for the Sunday Readings
As aid in focusing our homilies and sharing

Prepared by Fr. Cielo R. Almazan, OFM

1st Reading: Isaiah 40,1-5.9-11


1 Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. 2 Speak
tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an
end, her guilt is expiated. Indeed, she has received from the hand of
the LORD double for all her sins.
3 A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! 4 Every
valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad
valley. 5 Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all
mankind shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has
spoken.
9 Go up onto a high mountain, Zion, herald of glad tidings. Cry out at
the top of your voice, Jerusalem, herald of good news! Fear not to
cry out and say to the cities of Judah: Here is your God! 10 Here
comes with power the Lord GOD, who rules by his strong arm. Here
is his reward with him, his recompense before him. 11 Like a
shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs.
Carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care.
The focus is on preparing the WAY OF THE LORD.

1st Reading: Isaiah 40,1-5.9-11


1 Comfort, give comfort to my
people, says your God. 2 Speak
tenderly to Jerusalem, and
proclaim to her that her service is
at an end, her guilt is expiated;
Indeed, she has received from
the hand of the LORD double for
all her sins.
3 A voice cries out: In the desert
prepare the way of the LORD!
Make straight in the wasteland a
highway for our God! 4 Every
valley shall be filled in, every
mountain and hill shall be made
low; The rugged land shall be
made a plain, the rough country,
a broad valley. 5 Then the glory
of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all mankind shall see it
together; for the mouth of the
LORD has spoken.

Commentary
In vv.1-2ab God asks the prophet
Isaiah to comfort the people
Israel in Exile.
The rest of v.2 talks of the
reasons why they should be
comforted:
Their sufferings, as punishment
for their sins, are about to end.
They have suffered more than
enough. They have served their
sentence. (v.2)

Vv.3-4 announce the coming of


the Lord, who will put an end to
their sufferings.
Therefore, they must prepare,
pave the way for the coming of
the Lord (valley be filled up,
mountain made low).
They must facilitate his coming.
V.5 gives the reason for the
Lords coming.
To reveal his glory

1st Reading: Isaiah 40,1-5.9-11


9 Go up onto a high
mountain, Zion, herald of
glad tidings. Cry out at the
top of your voice,
Jerusalem, herald of good
news! Fear not to cry out
and say to the cities of
Judah: Here is your God!
10 Here comes with power
the Lord GOD, who rules
by his strong arm. Here is
his reward with him, his
recompense before him.
11 Like a shepherd he
feeds his flock; in his arms
he gathers the lambs,
Carrying them in his
bosom, and leading the
ewes with care.

V.9 commands Zion //


Jerusalem (herald of glad
tidings // good news) to
proclaim the presence of God
in their midst.
V.10 describes Gods coming:
with power
rules by strong arm
brings reward // recompense

V.11 describes Gods purpose


in coming:
to feed his flock
to gather the lambs, carries in his
bosom (intimacy)
to lead the ewes with care

Short Background of the 1st Reading


The reading comes from the first part of the second
book of Isaiah.
Just for your information or reminder: The Book of
Isaiah has three parts, namely
Proto-Isaiah: chs. 1-39 (in Jerusalem)
Deutero-Isaiah: chs. 40-55 (in Exile)
Trito-Isaiah chs. 56-66

Deut-Is is dubbed as the Book of Consolation.


The Israelites have been in exile for many years.
Nebuchadnezzar brought them to Babylon,
destroying their institutions in Judah, the priesthood,
kingship, etc., threatening their identity and religion.
(587 BC)

Now the prophet in exile, taking the spirit and style of


Isaiah of Jerusalem 200 years earlier, announces the
end of the exile.
The end of the exile means the restoration of their
legitimate institutions (worship in the Temple, being
ruled by a good king). The author sees the end of the
exile as the beginning of Gods rule over Israel / Judah
(539 BC).

Reflections on the First Reading


Our experience is also written in the experience of the
Israelites in exile.
We, too, experience being defeated by our enemies. We
are also exiled
cast aside, taken for granted, rejected, stripped of our rights, forced to leave
our homes, given unwanted assignments and thrown into unfamiliar
situations.

We feel we are being punished.


The experience of exile may be as a result of our own doing.

We violated some laws or betrayed our friends.


We were not mindful of our obligations to God and to our community.
We did not pay our bills.
We did not exercise self-control.

The Season of Advent is to celebrate Gods coming to


restore us.

Resp. Ps 85:9-10-11-12, 13-14


R. (8) Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your
salvation.
9 I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD for he proclaims peace to his people.
10 Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,
glory dwelling in our land.

11 Kindness and truth shall meet;


justice and peace shall kiss.
12 Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.
13 The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
14 Justice shall walk before him,
and prepare the way of his steps.

Resp. Ps 85:9-10-11-12, 13-14

R. (8) Lord, let us see your


kindness, and grant us your
salvation.

9 I will hear what God proclaims;


the LORD for he proclaims peace
to his people.
10 Near indeed is his salvation to
those who fear him,
glory dwelling in our land.

11 Kindness and truth shall meet;


justice and peace shall kiss.
12 Truth shall spring out of the
earth,
and justice shall look down from
heaven.

13 The LORD himself will give his


benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
14 Justice shall walk before him,
and prepare the way of his steps.

Commentary
The psalm is classified as a
community lament.
It expresses the message of the first
reading in the form of prayer.
In v.9, the psalmist expresses his love
for what God proclaims, which is
peace.
Along with peace is salvation for the
God-fearers. V.10
In vv.11-12, kindness, truth, peace,
and justice will pervade upon the
earth.
V.13 expresses Gods sense of
justice to mankind: he will make the
land increase its produce.
V.14 describes how the Lord will
come.

Reflections on the Psalm


Like the psalmist, let us believe that when God
comes, he will bring kindness and salvation.
God is he who saves and gives justice.
His peace leads us to abundance of food.
Our physical and spiritual well-being indicates
that God has come to us.
Are you ok, financially stable, spiritually strong?

2nd Reading: 2 Peter 3,8-14


8 Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one
day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day.
9 The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard "delay,"
but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish
but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the
Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away
with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved by fire,
and the earth and everything done on it will be found out. 11
Since everything is to be dissolved in this way, what sort of
persons ought (you) to be, conducting yourselves in holiness
and devotion, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the
day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved in
flames and the elements melted by fire. 13 But according to his
promise we await new heavens and a new earth in which
righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, since you await
these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish
before him, at peace.
The focus is on the coming day of the Lord.

2nd Reading: 2 Peter 3,8-14

8 Do not ignore this one fact, beloved,


that with the Lord one day is like a
thousand years and a thousand years
like one day. 9 The Lord does not
delay his promise, as some regard
"delay," but he is patient with you, not
wishing that any should perish but that
all should come to repentance.
10 But the day of the Lord will come
like a thief, and then the heavens will
pass away with a mighty roar and the
elements will be dissolved by fire, and
the earth and everything done on it will
be found out. 11 Since everything is to
be dissolved in this way, what sort of
persons ought (you) to be, conducting
yourselves in holiness and devotion,
12 waiting for and hastening the
coming of the day of God, because of
which the heavens will be dissolved in
flames and the elements melted by fire.
13 But according to his promise we
await new heavens and a new earth in
which righteousness dwells. 14
Therefore, beloved, since you await
these things, be eager to be found
without spot or blemish before him, at
peace.

Commentary
V.8 God reckons time differently
from us.
For God: 1 day = 1000 years and
vice versa.

V.9 The seeming delay is a time for


us to make up our minds (to
change ourselves). God does not
intend to lose anyone.
V.10 The Day of the Lord is sudden
and dissolves everything.
Vv.11-12 Christians living in
holiness and devotion will not be
affected.
Vv.13-14 They, who await for his
coming and have no sin, will be in
the new heavens and new earth.

Reflections on the

nd
2

reading

The reading invites the listeners to live without


blame, in preparation for the day of the Lord.
There is no other way to prepare for the new
heavens and the new earth than to live without
fault.
Living without fault is not an accident.
The Christian can do it if he mindfully listens to
the prodding of God and to his warnings written in
the scriptures.

Reflections on the

nd
2

reading

Each day, each minute is a chance for us to


change and to reform. One must take advantage
of this amnesty now, for afterwards, there will be
no more second chances.
Dont wait for the last minute. There is no such
thing as the last minute, or last 2 seconds, for
Jesus will suddenly come, according to the
reading.
Be guided by the Word of God.

Gospel reading: Mark 1,1-8


1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ (the Son of
God). 2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: "Behold, I am
sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your
way. 3 A voice of one crying out in the desert: 'Prepare the
way of the Lord, make straight his paths.'" 4 John (the)
Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of
repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 People of the
whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of
Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized
by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their
sins. 6 John was clothed in camel's hair, with a leather
belt around his waist. He fed on locusts and wild honey. 7
And this is what he proclaimed: "One mightier than I is
coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the
thongs of his sandals. 8 I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the holy Spirit."

Gospel Reading: Mark 1,1-8


Gospel
1 The beginning of the gospel of
Jesus Christ (the Son of God).
Prophecy
2 As it is written in Isaiah the
prophet: "Behold, I am sending
my messenger ahead of you; he
will prepare your way. 3 A voice
of one crying out in the desert:
'Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.'"
John the Baptist
4 John (the) Baptist appeared in
the desert proclaiming a
baptism of repentance for the
forgiveness of sins.

Commentary
V.1 announces what is to
be read: a gospel of Jesus
Christ, the son of God.
The gospel of Mark is the
first literary type of its
kind.
Vv.2 -3 pick up the message of
the first reading and Malachi
3,1.

V.4 Mark identifies the


voice in the desert as
John the Baptist. Mark
interprets the message prepare the way as
baptism of repentance.

Gospel Reading: Mark 1,1-8


Conversions
5 People of the whole Judean
countryside and all the inhabitants
of Jerusalem were going out to
him and were being baptized by
him in the Jordan River as they
acknowledged their sins. 6
Description of John
John was clothed in camel's hair,
with a leather belt around his
waist. He fed on locusts and wild
honey.
His message /witnessing
7 And this is what he proclaimed:
"One mightier than I is coming
after me. I am not worthy to stoop
and loosen the thongs of his
sandals. 8 I have baptized you
with water; he will baptize you with
the holy Spirit."

V. 5 describes the
overwhelming response of
the people in the barrios of
Judaea and the inhabitants of
Jerusalem.

They allowed themselves


to be baptized as they
acknowledged their sins.
V. 6 describes the simple
attire and food of John.
Vv.7-8 express Johns
humility (feeling of
unworthiness) and the
greatness of the one yet to
come.

Further observations
The very first line is very important in the interpretation of
the whole gospel of Mark.
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
This introduction announces that the gospel is a story of
an extraordinary person.
He is not just an ordinary person of Nazareth, but identified as
Christ (Messiah), the Son of God, with a special mission.

All the readers and listeners of the gospel must,


therefore, take the story seriously.
Jesus does not appear right away in the gospel. John
the Baptist comes first.
Johns mission is to prepare the people for the
appearance of Jesus as the prophets had foretold.

Reflections on the gospel reading


The call of repentance is loud and clear in the gospel
reading.
Repentance is the way to prepare to meet Jesus Christ
when he comes to begin his ministry.
The reading suggests that without repentance we cannot
follow the teachings of Jesus.
What is repentance?
To await for the coming of Jesus to teach us. We have been
influenced by other people and by the world, absorbing their
teachings and values.

With the coming of Jesus, we need to stand prepared for


the new teachings of the new teacher, the Christ, and
assimilate his values.
Jesus brings good news: salvation.

Tying the three readings and the Psalm


We must prepare for the way of the Lord (1st reading).
The Lord who comes is totally different from the worldly lords.
He will restore his people, free them from sufferings and evil
rule.

The psalm gives the purpose of Gods coming


(salvation).
Prepare the way of the Lord. (gospel reading), through
repentance (change of teachers, change of value
system).
When the Lord comes, we must be prepared (be found
blameless in his sight) (2nd reading).
Take note of the order of the readings: 1st reading gospel 2nd reading.
It is much better if you follow this historical order as you develop your homily. The
first reading and the gospel talk about the 1st coming of Jesus, the second
reading about the 2nd coming of Jesus.

How to develop our homily / sharing


We should focus on the word preparation as
we are in the season of Advent.
To understand the word preparation better, we
should be able to answer the following
questions:
What are we preparing for?
We are preparing for the coming of Jesus.

Who is this person / Lord who deserves our


preparation?
He is the Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah, sent to
redeem us.

What kind of preparation should we make


according to the readings?
Preparation for the coming of the Lord is none
other than repentance from sinful living.

The first reading tells us that we should facilitate the


coming of the Lord. (Make straight his paths)
We pave the way to make his coming to our hearts
easier, through conversion.
We dont harden our hearts.
We must acknowledge our woundedness, our poverty,
our experiences of sin and rejection.
We pray for his coming to change and improve our life.
Are you willing to change or you just want to enjoy your
sins? (Wretched soul!)

The gospel reading tells us that the best


way to welcome Jesus is through personal
conversion (metanoia) and cleansing.
As Catholics, we interpret this as receiving
the sacrament of confession and
promising God to do better and not to
draw near the occasions of sin.

The gospel teaches us that we give up


self-rule (autonomy, very secular, living
independently from God, living according to ones
tastes) and that we allow ourselves to be

ruled by Jesus.
We adopt Jesus as our teacher, whose
teachings lead us to salvation, and be
docile to him.

The second reading teaches us that the


second coming of Jesus Christ is sudden.
The conversion that is asked of us is living
blamelessly in the Lord, day after day.
We make sure that at any time of the day
we are disposed to meet Jesus.
We can now begin living as if we were in
the new heavens and new earth.
We should not delay our conversion.

The eucharist is for those who are converted.


When we receive the eucharist, we are telling
the Lord and the congregation
that we have submitted ourselves to God and
that we are ready to meet the Lord on Christmas,
today, and at the end of time.

Our prayerful and active participation in the holy


eucharist is itself our preparation for his coming.
In the eucharist, Jesus assures us of our
salvation.

Our Context of Sin and Grace


Still living in unfreedom
Living as if nobody is
coming.
Self-righteous
No spiritual values
Misguided
preparations (more on
externals)

No conversion (cant
follow Christ)

Conversion
Cleansing from sin and
evil, goes to confession
Keen to the voice of the
prophet
Sees connection
between listening to the
Word of God / receiving
Holy Communion and
the coming of the Lord.

Suggested Songs
Make Straight the Path
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWlq2ouoEMg

Prepare Ye
Halina, Hesus, Halina
O Come O Come Emmanuel