Friday, December 2, 2011

Second Sunday of Advent Year B


Second Sunday of Advent Year B
Readings: Is 40 1-5, 9-11; 2 Pt 3:8-14; Mk 1:1-8

Patience is an Advent virtue. 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 struck a conversation with God! He asked God, "Lord, I have always wondered about your idea of 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 penny?" God answered, "No problem, but you will have to wait for 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. How did we get the crisis? Part of the answer is that financial institutions in Wall Street, eager to make quick profits told the people that there was no need to wait; that they could have it all, now: a new home, a new SUV, everything you name it. No need to wait. Well, our impatience to have it all has finally caught up with us. This Sunday, the readings help us to realize that just as patience is an important virtue in the economic and financial situations, it is even more so for our spiritual journey. The prophet Isaiah in the first reading, after years in exile, prophecies a new dawn that is about to break in for God's people. The darkness of the Babylonian exile is about to end. The Lord will lead his people into freedom, 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; for personal and communal transformation; they usher in an immanent liberation of God’s people.

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 season, we too are invited 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 also 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 better grades. 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 originally as a symbol of teaching about patience. Each Sunday of Advent the candle lights increase by 25% until the last Sunday when all 4 candles are lit indicating the fullness of the true light at Christmas – the fifth candle. 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 personal conversion. 3) Advent is not only a season of preparation, but also of practicing our patience; patience with each other at home, at school and at work, and by God’s grace to resist our impatience.

©2011 John S. Mbinda

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