Second Sunday Advent 2012

Scripture readings for Sunday's Mass are here.

Various reflections on the readings from St Louis Centre for Liturgy are here.

Reflections from The Edge of Enclosure here.

My reflections for the Second Sunday Advent 2011 are here
and  for my reflections for the 2nd Sunday Advent 2010 click here

First Reading

This reading from Baruch paints a beautiful picture of a homecoming: the people of Israel coming home from their exile. The deserted city of Jerusalem is a mother is in tears weeping for her lost children: the reading says God has not forgotten them and has gathered them all and is bringing them home.

Second Reading

Brothers and sisters:
I pray always with joy in my every prayer for all of you,
because of your partnership for the gospel
from the first day until now.

I am confident of this,
that the one who began a good work in you
will continue to complete it
until the day of Christ Jesus.

God is my witness,
how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

And this is my prayer:
that your love may increase ever more and more

in knowledge and every kind of perception,
to discern what is of value,

so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
filled with the fruit of righteousness

that comes through Jesus Christ
for the glory and praise of God.

Gospel Extract  Lk 3:1-6

The word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.

John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan,

proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,

as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:

A voice of one crying out in the desert:
"Prepare the way of the Lord,

make straight his paths.

Every valley shall be filled

and every mountain and hill shall be made low.

The winding roads shall be made straight,

and the rough ways made smooth,

and all flesh shall see the salvation of God."


Repentance is the beginning of hope.

In this article in The Huffington Post on Preparing For Christmas, Fr. Richard Rohr says  

"The Word of God, however, confronts, converts and consoles us -- in that order. 
St Luke's Gospel today certainly fits this description perfectly.

The suffering, injustice and devastation on this planet are too great now to settle for any infantile Jesus. Actually, that has always been true."

He also says this: 
“the role of the prophets is to call us out of numbness.” Since the beginning of time, prophetic voices both in and outside of scripture have been calling us to consider change of some sort. Sometimes it is spiritual change, other times it may be economic, political, or systemic change. 

Regardless of the emphasis, prophets challenge us to consider a better future. Right now there’s a strong sense of change brewing in the church, the world; people are rising up and calling individuals, communities, nations, and everything in between out of numbness and toward justice, mercy, equality, and love"

There are a multitude of voices crying out today, and it is hard to know sometimes which are the voices of the true prophets.  

The Catholic church has always been my home but it feels less and less like a welcoming and all inclusive one. But I know too that God is kind and full of compassion,slow to anger, abounding in love. 

The words of the late Cardinal Martini continue to challenge me, the actions and fate of Fr Roy Bourgeois challenge me, a 92 year old priest who dares to speak out for female ordination and is then silenced challenges me, as does the treatment of  Elizabeth Bishop the theologian and many others;  the LWCR, sometimes my friends and other bloggers


Increasingly, I am all too aware that whilst these issues remain unresolved, my faith still remains focused on Christ and His presence in the Eucharist. 

Sometimes it is this alone that gives me peace of mind.


 But I remain unsettled and concerned by the way the church is dealing with people who have given their lives to the church and who deeply love it.

We are all called to find a voice, however feeble and unsure it often is, that will denounce injustice and oppression in our own selves and in the world around us.

We are all called to repent and at the same time we have to try and provide hope and signs of the compassion and the ever present love of God.

In the meantime I just hope, “awaiting a new heaven and a new earth in which justice reigns.”  
For "All shall be well, all shall be well... For there is a force of love moving through the universe that holds us fast and will never let us go." Julian of Norwich.

 Image source

From his prison cell in Nazi Germany in 1944, Father Alfred Delp, S.J., wrote of John the Baptist:

"…woe to any age in which the voice crying in the wilderness can no longer be heard because the noises of everyday life drown it – or restrictions forbid it – or it is lost in the hurry and turmoil of “progress” – or simply stifled by authority, misled by fear and cowardice.

There should never be any lack of prophets like John the Baptist in the kaleidoscope of life at any period… They warn us of our chance, because they can already feel the ground heaving beneath their feet… They cry out to us, urging us to save ourselves by a change of heart before the coming of the catastrophe threatening to overwhelm us.
…Oh may the arresting voices of the wilderness ring out, warning humanity in good time, that ruin and devastation actually spread from within.
May the Advent figure of St. John the Baptist, the incorruptible herald and teacher in God’s name, be no longer a stranger in our own wilderness…. For how shall we hear if there are none to cry out, none whose voice can rise above the tumult of violence and destruction, the false clamour that deafens us to reality?"

 Above extract is from Alfred Delp, SJ: Prison Writings (Orbis Books, 2004)

Krista Tippett in this article on Walter Brueggemann's The Prophetic Imagination says 

"Prophets help us connect the dots between the world as it is and the world as it might be."

They also tend to emerge in moments and chaos and change. Walter Brueggemann helps me reclaim some important language for being a person of this historical moment of change and chaos: the healing necessity of "lamentations"; the difference between being bold and being strident; the hard, life-giving work of letting go of comfort for the sake of what is important. 

Yet even as he challenges, Brueggemann walks back and forth between challenge and mercy, another word he recovers in all its usefulness and beauty. 

Indeed, he shows how the two words are meaningfully fused. He points out that the Hebrew word (like the Arabic word) for "mercy" is derived from the word for "womb."

 It is the ultimate image of knowing one's own well-being to be bound up -- existentially, uncomfortably, life-givingly -- with the well-being of another."

 I was quite taken by this last part and did a little more searching.

 This beautiful poem Rahma comes from the Arabic word, womb, which is related to word mercy.

 Rehm is Arabic for womb, it is a root word in the semantic field for both rehman and raheem, merciful and compassionate; also names of God and qualities unique to womb-men, something men have to endeavour to imbibe from the mother and anima.

Her subtle beauty expands all continents,
her fragile lines, the symbols of mysteries unfolding,
slowly becoming...

Unaccustomed, she is nature's essence,

carrying the burdens of countless streams.

She kneels to touch the earth, dust
disseminates, enveloping her dome. 

The sound of breath reverberates,
mirroring the mercy of the womb.

Within the intricate maze
of a creative mind
lies a beautiful unborn child, 

losing itself 

only to be found 

by the heart of its Creator.

~ By Mala Alam

More pertinent posts relating to prophets, Walter Brueggemann and hot topic issues here.

Fr Thom Rosica in his homily for today says, 

 "The message of Advent is not that everything is falling to pieces. Nor is it that God is in heaven and all is therefore well with the world. Rather the message of Advent is that when every fixed star on the moral compass is wavering, when all hell is breaking loose on earth, we hear once again the Baptist’s consoling message.

Yet even with the birth of Jesus, we learn that Jerusalem and Israel still awaited their redemption. The world still awaits its freedom from hunger, war, oppression, violence, persecution and suffering. We all await our redemption. Advent challenges us to look at the ways that we wait, the ways that we long for God, and the ways that we hope. 

What and who is the source of our Advent hope?

John the Baptist’s life can be summed up in the image of a finger pointing to the one who was coming: Jesus Christ. 

If we are to take on John’s role of preparing the way in today’s world, our lives also will become the pointing fingers of living witnesses who demonstrate that Jesus can be found and that he is near. 

Jesus is the fulfillment of our longing, our hoping and waiting. Jesus alone can transform the deserts of our lives into living gardens of beauty and nourishment for the world. Come, Lord Jesus! We need you now more than ever! "

Image source

This is an excellent and thought provoking article by Douglas John Hall titled  
"Where In The World Are We ?

This is an edited extract below : 

"A century ago, when the nineteenth century after Christ was giving way to the twentieth century, the hopes of the churches for a rather glorious future were running very high; the new century, it was said, would be in fact “The Christian Century,” and a journal so named was launched to attest to that happy prospect. Today, while that kind of optimism may be entertained in certain newly prominent religious circles in this country and elsewhere, there is among the older, once-most-established denominations of the West a kind of religious “future shock.” 

We had become so accustomed to “being-here”—a permanent and prominent feature of the cultural landscape, like schools and banks and government offices—and we were so certain of our continuation, with generation after generation filing
into the pews of their forebears, that the prospect of diminution and decrease—possibly even of extinction—shocks us profoundly.

Our alarm manifests itself in two ways, neither of which is helpful. One response to our changed status (I suppose it could be called the Chicken Little or Henny-Penny syndrome) rushes about excitedly crying that something terrible is happening and that we must act immediately to stop it. 

The other response, which in my opinion is a great deal more problematic, is some version of that well-practiced human habit universally referred to as “the ostrich approach” to reality: in the face of any kind of trouble, thrust your head into the sand and believe that the trouble is illusory or will vanish if it is ignored long enough. 

Sometimes, as I move about in the churches of North America, I fear we are being held captive by these two strange birds, manic chickens on the one hand and repressive ostriches on the other! 

Image source

Over against the panic of those who cry that the sky is falling and the forced and unconvincing calm of those who believe the storm will blow over, those of us who are seriously searching for a way into the future feel that we must begin with an honest assessment of the Christian past and present. 

What is wanted is perspective, and the only way of gaining a perspective on what is happening here and now is by reflecting on how we got to the here and the now. Many young people may find history boring; but in the church today historical reflection is the essence of Christian responsibility. How, as a religious faith, did we arrive at this point in our sojourn? 

Click here for the complete article.

Douglas Hall's complete text of his second lecture is here, titled , "Finding Our Way Into The Future."

Hall is Professor emeritus of Christian theology at McGill University in
Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
He is an ordained minister of the United Church of Canada, and his most recent book is Bound and Free: A Theologian’s Journey.

Also this from Douglas Hall's Book Bound And Free...............

"Christians are bound by a tradition, whose goal, if we allow it, is to be free." His final chapter sums up his theology adeptly.

 "Confidence we may now and then feel, certitude, never. That we are in touch with truth, we may sense, now and then, here and there, that we possess Truth, never. … The gospel is not melancholy; it is 'glad tidings' for the melancholy. 

For the frivolous it is of course not so, for it wishes to make them serious… 

I can only hope that it (the book) will make some who read it joyful, as only those can be who ponder again the joyous mystery-the gospel, of a God who enters into complete solidarity with our difficult, perhaps even impossible kind of creaturehood, joyful as souls called out of the depth by a Spirit still at work 'giving life to the dead and bringing something out of nothing.'" (Rom.4:17, KJV.) 

 Prepare The Way

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