The second reading for the second Sunday of Advent in part is 2 Peter 3: 8-9, “Do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
Beautiful and poignant words to describe how God does not delay His promises to us nor has he forgotten us even if it feels like HE has. I am reminded of this and filled with hope when I read the words of Jesus described by Susan Young in her popular book “Jesus Calling.” I am with you in all that you do, even in the most menial task. I am always aware of you, concerned with every detail of your life. NOTHING escapes My notice–not even the number of hairs on your head.
In the Gospel today, John the Baptist is the voice crying out in the desert calling God’s people to repentance to receive the fullness of God’s promises. St. Augustine of Hippo’s has a sermon that best describes this voice in the wilderness. He says, John is the voice that lasts for time; but Christ is the Word who lives forever. Take away the word, the meaning, and what is the voice? Where there is no understanding, there is only a meaningless sound. The voice without the word strikes the ear but does not build up the heart. “The voice of one crying in the wilderness” is the voice of the one breaking the silence, as though it were saying: “I speak out in order to lead him into your hearts, but he does not choose to come where I lead him unless you prepare the way for him.” To prepare the way means to pray well; it means thinking humbly of oneself. We should take our lesson from John the Baptist.
Yes, we should take the lesson from John the Baptist and prepare by doing three basic and doable things this Advent.
- One, we can fan the flame and feed the fire of the Holy Spirit that John the Baptist spoke about in today’s reading. Mark 1:8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” Spiritually speaking we fan the flame to feed the fire of the Holy spirit with works of charity, prayer and meditating on scripture.
- Two, we can go to confession to cleanse our souls from anything that could hinder us from the fullness of blessings God wants us to receive.
- Three, like John the Baptist, we are called to give witness to God’s people. He was the voice in the desert leading people to repentance preparing the way of Christ. We, as disciples of Christ, are called to be the voice in the world by word and deed leading people to soften their hearts preparing the way for Christ to enter.
There is this poem I came across years ago that expresses humility in a way that is perfect for Advent and to help us live out those three basic and doable suggestions. Living in humility will make it easier for God to straighten our paths and remove us from being in the way of our flames being fanned.
Poem for Advent reflecy by, someone anonymous
In humility seek to be nothing more than a little straw in my manger at Bethlehem. Perhaps my mother picks you up and places you over my heart in the desire to keep me warm. There you move up and down with every beat of my heart, perfectly synchronized with my heart, but never seeking attention for yourself.
This is how you should live- seeking to comfort me, living in accord with my heart, which is Divine Love, but never seeking to be noticed or set apart from others.