Second Sunday of Advent

Readings

IS 11:1-10

ROM 15:4-9

MT 3:1-12

Reflection

 

Prepare the Way

27. There are 27 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.

Due to a quirk in the calendar, last year Thanksgiving fell as early as it possibly can, producing 33 days between the two holidays. This year, Thanksgiving landed on the latest date possible, giving us 6 days fewer to prepare for Christmas. I am acutely feeling the loss of that almost-extra-week.

There is so much to do. Decorating the house. Sending Christmas cards. Securing meaningful presents for loved ones. Baking traditional treats. Attending special Masses. The list goes on and on.  

As the parent of a 7-year-old, I especially want to savor every one of the beautiful moments that this special time of year brings, allowing my daughter’s excitement, anticipation and joy to fill my heart and restore my weary soul. Like every parent – like every person – I could really use those extra 6 days. Thus, my first week of Advent has been filled with rushing, hurrying, worrying and pushing. But preparing? Certainty not the kind of preparing that today’s readings call us to.

The cry of John the Baptist to “Prepare the way of the Lord” by making “straight his paths” interrupts my rushing to get ready for Christmas to instead ponder what it could and would mean to prepare for the coming of Christ into my life once again this year. It’s a bracing challenge, but a needed one; I’m grateful for it. 

Similarly, Isaiah’s vision of a community built on the justice of God stops me short, correcting my narrow and self-centered notion of preparing for Christmas to include God’s special concern for the “poor” and “afflicted.” Just as he has every day this week, Isaiah takes up the role of prophet – not by predicting the future but rather by describing the present all too keenly, and challenging us to see, act and judge as God would and as Jesus did. While injustice and consequent misery were rampant in the time of Isaiah’s writing, so too are they today.

Isaiah’s challenge reveals the subtle and unconscious ways that my rushing to get ready for Christmas is motivated by and oriented toward a Christmas card image, a Hallmark movie, Normal Rockwell painting. Today’s readings come at just the right time, while there are still plenty of these precious Advent days remaining, to reorient my preparations on the images offered by Isaiah and John the Baptist, a more profound and much more compelling – if more difficult – picture of what it means to prepare for the Lord’s coming.  

Michael Lovette-Colyer, Ph.D., ‘13
Assistant Vice President
University Ministry