Lessons for Advent II, December 10, 2017

Isaiah 40: 1-11

The prophet, Isaiah begins the second part of the book with the voice of Yahweh who breaks the silence of exile and reverses the fortunes of Judah.  The rise of Persia has broken the power of Babylon, choked off the exile of Judah and restored the captives to return to Jerusalem.  In words familiar from Handel’s Messiah, God intones, “Comfort, comfort my people”, establishing the theme of deliverance for a people devastated by an inept kingly leadership and destructive war.  The poet follows the comfort motif with a description of a super highway cut through the rough terrain that will enable Judah to return home to Jerusalem; it is a homecoming, Yahweh declares, an opportunity to escape oppression, to rebuild their city.  Yet the poet says,  ”The people are grass”, they are not ready to accept the rule of Yahweh.  Isaiah concludes the passage with a ringing cry of obedience to the God who has restored their lives.

II Peter 3:8-15a

This reading in Second Peter deals with the second coming of Christ.  But we are in this Advent anticipating the Christ Child, the first coming.  In her homily last Sunday, Mother Kathy reminded us that we in this Advent are also “preparing for the Second Coming of the King in his glory.”  The author of Second Peter in this, a farewell address, writes to Gentile Christians perhaps in Asia Minor, counteracting other teachers in the area who decry and ridicule Christ’s promised return.  The Lord, he says, will come without warning and the world as we know it will be gone; therefore be at peace with one another and stay with the Lord.

Mark 1: 1-8

 Despite the years of preaching and attempts at seeing Jesus as the very beginning of Christianity, indeed that Jesus came straight from heaven, all four Gospels show Jesus as ‘firmly anchored in the history of Israel.”  Jesus was a Jew, brought up in a Jewish household, followed the rites and traditions of Jewish life and went to his death under Jewish scriptural rules.  While all the Gospels begin at different points of Jesus’ life, Mark is content to open with the story of John the Baptist, calling the people of Judah to repentance, baptizing them in the Jordan River and announcing the coming of Jesus.  John was the one who dramatically prepares the world for the saviour, for the birth of Christ Jesus.