5th/6th December 2020

posted 7 Dec 2020, 02:43 by Parish Office
Homily for the Second Sunday of Advent, Year B (5 & 6/12/20)
 – Bible Sunday

Last week, in the first reading, we saw how there was a sense that things were not right – that it seemed as if the heavens were closed up, that God was ignoring their pleas and prayers, and it seemed as if they were cut off from God because of their sins. “Oh, that you would tear the heavens open and come down” it said. Today’s first reading, also from Isaiah, is a lot more hopeful. Their prayer has been heard. God is coming. The time of punishment for sin is over, and now God is coming to their rescue. 

It can all seem a bit like Covid. The time of suffering and perhaps the sense of being abandoned by other people and by God looks like it could be coming to an end. It’s certainly taken its toll on people. Some are demoralised, some are worn out with the stress and the worry of this disease. Others are simply bored – and so it’s being said that some are wanting to create a bit of cheer by putting up the Christmas decorations – just something to lift people’s spirits. 

As we know, materialism doesn’t totally satisfy. It might help people for a while to forget what has happened and to think about something else. But we can use the material things of this world to help us celebrate the arrival of Christ. The hope in the first reading isn’t just seasonal hope – it’s rooted in God. God is coming to save us. It says:
 “Here is the Lord coming with power,
his arm subduing all things to him. … 
He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, 
gathering lambs in his arms, 
holding them against his breast and leading to their rest the mother ewes.” 

Their hope is placed in the Lord. 

In the Gospel today, we come across the figure of St John the Baptist. He doesn’t just arrive to tell everyone that the Messiah is coming. He tells them to get their house in order first before He comes. John proclaims a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, and has the people confessing their sins to him as he baptises them (if you missed that bit, read through the Gospel text again: it is there). With the coronavirus, there has been a lot of thought about getting it to end, and prayer for the end of the pandemic – but not so much talk about repentance. It was said during the Second World War in France, by the French, that the reason they had been taken over by Germany was because they had abandoned God. God had been removed from their classrooms, so if you shut God out, why should we expect Him to suddenly help us? As a nation, we have a lot of repenting to do, as do other countries; but we also need to think about our own personal situation. Pray for the forgiveness of other people’s sins, yes, but also turn to God to confess our own, because that is the only way: with God we proper, but without Him, we fall. 

In St Peter’s time, people were asking why Christ hadn’t already returned in glory. So in the second reading, we have an answer from St Peter: the Lord is being merciful towards us and giving us time to repent. He will return in glory at some point in the future: He has told us that; we have his word for it. But when, we do not know. Now is the time to make the best use of the time we have, and put our own house in order. Preparation now leads to something much better when He comes at Christmas, as well as when He returns in glory. Fail to prepare … prepare to fail. 

We await the Lord’s arrival this Christmas. We long to celebrate God-with-us. God is good, and He will help us through this coronavirus. But we also need to repent of the ways in which we have offended Him, great and small. In that way we show that He is truly Lord of our lives.