Sunday 10th December

Second Sunday of Advent

Is 40:1-5, 9-11 Ps 84 2 Pt 3:8-14 Mk 1:1-8

John the Baptist has been designated as patron saint of motorways on the strength of today’s readings. For Isaiah and for John it is important that there is nothing to stand in the way of the Lord’s coming. No obstacle can get in the way, for the Lord’s advent is certain. The declaration from Isaiah is majestic and exudes God’s power, but it is not a rough power – the image of gathering lambs in his arms and holding them against his breast speaks of utmost tenderness. This is not a God who rides roughshod over his people. That is why John calls for repentance – he calls for the people to turn to God and receive the one who comes. For Christians the only obstacle that stands in the way of the Lord is the obstacle of sin and human resistance – that is why Peter calls on his readers to live lives that will mean they are at peace with the Lord – lives that will welcome the one who comes. Much of the liturgy of Advent is focussed on the Lord’s coming, but partly that is to help us carry out the preparation needed to receive the Lord. The Lord does indeed come in might, but also in love, that is why fear is not the most appropriate response to the challenge of the last days promised by the reading from Peter. As the gospel tells us John comes to prepare the way and he does that by calling on the people to change their ways – repentance is literally a call to think differently. The image that will fill our minds in two weeks will be that of the child in the manger – to hold on to these very different images: one of God coming in power, and the other of a baby in a manger, will require very ‘different thinking’.