Second Sunday of Advent
Today we light the second candle of our Advent wreath as the darkness of the northern hemisphere settles upon us earlier than it did just one week ago. We continue to call and chant, "Oh come, oh come Emanuel." It is as if the calling and chanting will illumine the darkness of our own hearts and the light of yet another candle can awaken us to a hope beyond what this world offers.
Today, Matthew reintroduces us to the prophetic voice in the desert of John the Baptist. John after all, is not a stranger to us. We have listened to his prophetic message in previous years. Yet today we are in a different place than when we last encountered him. His message is very simple, "Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand." To repent doesn’t mean to feel bad for something that happened in the past. Feeling bad for a past event frequently keeps us stuck in the past. Repentance is more focused on having a change of heart. If a person changes their heart for the better today, then that person is immediately in a different place, emotionally, and spiritually. And the Kingdom of heaven begins to shine a little bit brighter.
This is the Second week of Advent. Last Sunday the message was short and clean. We were told to stay awake. I think that all of us like to believe that we are awake. Personally, as I get older, I’m more convinced that God spends considerable energy trying to wake me up. Sometimes we may have to
go through a significant ordeal or even a major loss before the question gets asked, "What more does God have to do to get your attention?" That is the "stay awake" we heard last Sunday. I believe these four Sunday gospels of Advent are linked together. They are not merely four isolated weekends
that tell us in four different ways to get ready and be prepared. I see them interconnected, leading us on a journey. If John the Baptist is God’s messenger announcing the coming of the reign of God, it can only be heard if the person is awake. So when the First Sunday of Advent tells us to "stay awake," it is because there is a message to be given to us. As we listen to John the Baptist today, hopefully we will hear something new because we are "staying awake." We will never hear any messengers of good news if we are sleeping.
May your Advent journey continue with the truth, the Kingdom of heaven is
at hand, on this day.
Fr. David Colhour, C.P. is on the staff at Christ the King Passionist Retreat Center, Citrus Heights, California.