Second Sunday of Advent
Second Sunday of Advent
December 8, 2019
As I was driving out to Briggsville this morning there was a sign in the front yard of a home: “CNN sucks!” Well, I guess we know where they get their news from, or where they don’t. It’s amazing, really, to think about how many sources there are for news…and all of them carry some bias. It doesn’t matter if it’s TV or internet feeds for newspaper. Even the church is not exempt. I always chuckle when I think of two legitimate sources of news for the Catholic Church and both of them are referred to as NCR: The National Catholic Reporter and the National Catholic Register. They are about as far apart as CNN and FOX.
What do you do!? How do you know who to believe? Who to trust? The question is not IF, but how much bias do you tolerate? Clearly the harmony of voices that Paul talked about has not yet been realized!
That’s why I find the message of this Second Sunday of Advent so refreshing. John the Baptist was a rebel of a man who lived in the dessert. The crowds came out to hear him. I’m sure he attracted his share of the nut-cases, but he also attracted the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the religious leaders of his time. But he had only one message: Repent. That’s it. And everyone got the same message. There was no bias, no favoritism. Just repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.
He didn’t tell people how; he wasn’t too specific - except to infer that actions need to follow words. And he didn’t pretend to be the last voice in the story. He readily admitted one mightier than he coming. But he also didn’t back down; not to anyone. Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. It was simple and straightforward; a message that ended up costing him his life. All he said was, “You need to change.”
As Advent people we are called to listen to the voice crying out in our dessert, “Prepare the way of the Lord.” But just who are we to listen to? So maybe we should begin, at least, listening to the voices that have withstood the test of time and the Holy Spirit, the voices of the prophets sent by God to prepare a way for the Son of God. The ones who spoke to and attracted the good, the bad and the ugly with one clear, simple message: “Repent.”
Stop judging by appearance or hearsay. Judge the poor with justice. Always side with the afflicted. In the poetic and symbolic language of Isaiah the prophet, if there is any harm or ruin on the holy mountain, we need to repent.
Until the wolf is a guest of the lamb and the leopard lies down with the kid, until the calf and the young lion browse together with a little child to guide them, and the cow and the bear can be neighbors, and the lion eats hay like the ox, we are not finished. Unless, and until…repent. It’s the only voice that carries validity and authority.
Change whatever it is in your life that needs to be changed. Work at whatever it is in your marriage that needs work. Refocus your priorities and reshape your schedules to reflect what is most important, not just to you but for the good of others. If you come to the table a hundred times trying to make peace and it hasn’t worked, come another hundred times. If justice is not a reality in our society, if vulnerable lives are still at risk, if the poor still struggle, if war is still being waged around our kitchen table or in far distant lands: Repent. Change. Make a straight path for the Lord.
That’s a voice that speaks in all times, in all places, in all languages, to all hearts - without any bias.