2nd Sunday of Advent – 5 December 2021

Advent is my favourite liturgical season of the year: I call it my “sweet Lent” because of its penitential aspects which, instead of leading to the horrors of a Cross, lead to the wood of a manger. And although it speaks, too, of suffering, poverty and injustice, it is softened by the love of a poor couple, the light of a bright star, the warmth of farm animals and the adoraton of shepherds, angels and kings!

As kids we all looked forward to Christmas, probably more for the coming of Santa Claus (today is the feastday of the real St. Nicholas!) rather than the birth of our Saviour-King but in our own way we understood it wouldn’t be Christmas without midnight Mass, Christmas carols and a Nativity scene or play of some sort.

But St. Paul tells us that as adults in Christ, we put aside the things of a child (1 Cor 13, 11) to enter more deeply into this great mystery of faith, the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinty! And that doesn’t come easily in our world “hell-bent” on taking Christ out of Christmas (in Europe they are even talking of banning the use of words like “Christmas” and “Mary”!)

But on this 2nd Sunday of Advent, the liturgy of the Word comes to our aid in the austere figure of the Baptist who is still shouting out today in the desert of pratical-atheistic societies, to awaken us from “peacefully-deadly” slumbers of superficiality and indifference, in order to give less attention to presents and more to preparing for the Presence of a Child, the Father’s Gift of salvation for all the  peoples of the world, for all time!

The Word of the Lord that came to John in the wilderness and to Mary in her Womb, seeks a place also in our hearts this Christmas but, as the prophets Baruch and Luke tell us, we need to prepare a way for the Lord. This year we have been driven by covid into a forced-time of “sacramental-desert” but one in which the Word will have spoken clearly in our hearts. Now that a “red-light” permits greater freedoms, one of the best ways not to lose the “grace of lockdown” and the foremost way of making straight paths for the Coming of the Lord, is to avail ourselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (perhaps one of the first items on our list of things-to-do before Christmas?!)

A Saviour is given to save us from our sins (the wood of the manger is the same as that of the Cross!) He’s seeking the only thing that is truly ours and the best gift we could ever give Him and ourselves…so let’s give generously this Advent!

Peace to all people loved by the Lord!

Fr. James Walsh

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