Friday, December 5, 2008

December 7: Second Sunday of Advent Year B

December 7: Second Sunday of Advent Year B
Readings: Isaiah 40 1-5, 9-11; 2 Peter 3:8-14; Mark 1:1-8

This Sunday, the readings challenge us to wait for the Lord patiently. We could say that the readings draw our attention to the fact that God’s time is not our time. There is a story of a lucky man who had a conversation with God. He asked, "Lord, I have always wondered about time. What is a thousand years like for you?" God responded, "For me a thousand years is like a second." The man then asked, "What about money? What is a million dollars like for you?" And God answered, "For me a million dollars is like a penny." The man became eager and said, "Lord, could you give me just one of those pennies?" God answered, "No problem, but you will have to wait one second." In the second reading, Peter's main point is patience."With the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day." Patience means waiting, sacrificing some immediate satisfaction for the sake of a greater good. Impatience, on the other hand, is the unwillingness to wait, wanting it all right now. Consider the current financial crisis. Financial institutions, eager to make quick profits, told young people and young adults that they too could have it all, now: a new house, a new SUV, everything. No need to wait. Well, our impatience to have it all now has finally caught up with us. This Sunday, the readings help us to realize that patience is an important virtue. It helps us to understand that God does not want anybody to be lost and so offers everybody a chance for conversion. In the first reading from the prophet Isaiah, after years in exile, a new dawn breaks in for God's people. The darkness of exile in Babylon is about to end. The Lord will lead his people, but a messenger of the Lord is sent ahead to prepare a way for the Lord in the wilderness and to "make a straight highway for …God across the desert". These words refer to a call for a change of heart, and an assurance of the immanent liberation.

In the Gospel, we hear that the inhabitants of Jerusalem went to John the Baptist to be baptized, and “they acknowledged their sins.” During this Advent, we too need to examine our consciences in terms of patience. Almost every sin you can think of touches on our lack of patience. For example, stealing or cheating are sins of impatience; rather than working hard, a person grabs things or money from others or rather than working hard at school, a student cheats in the exams to get a better grade. Patience is a very basic virtue that implies self-discipline, hard work and sacrifice. It is not easy to wait patiently, but in the end it brings results. This brings us to reflect on the Advent wreath which was actually invented as a symbol to teach about patience. Each Sunday of Advent the light increases until the last Sunday when all 4 candles are lit indicating the fullness of the true light at Christmas. Advent therefore teaches us how to wait patiently for the fullness of the light, Jesus Christ. The message may be summed up as follows: 1) God’s time is not our time and therefore the need to be patient; 2) the Lord’s delay in coming is meant to offers us an opportunity to accept God’s invitation to conversion. 3) Advent is not only a season of preparation, but also of practicing our patience and by God’s grace to resist our impatience.

©2008 John M. Mbinda

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