TODAY’S THOUGHTS TO LIVE BY: Second Sunday of Advent

Dec. 4, 2nd Sunday of Advent
Liturgy of the Word —
Is. 11:1-10;
Ps. 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17;
Rom. 15:4-9;
Mt. 3:1-12.

1. Today is also  Catholic Handicapped Day and National Aids Sunday. Note from ORDO: “Today we include in the Prayers of the Faithful intentions for Persons with disabilities and also for those who suffer AIDS.

2. 1st Reading, Is. 11:1-10 — The Rise of a New Davidic King. “But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from its roots a bud shall blossom” (v. 1). Jesse was the father of King David. He is also mentioned among the ancestors of Jesus (see Mt. 1:6). Just as King David came from Jesse, so Jesus came from Jesse and David (see Lk. 1:32-33). 

3. “The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord” (v. 2). This is the source of the seven-fold gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Vulgate uses “piety” for fear of the Lord  in v. 2. The 7th gift is “fear of the Lord” in v. 3.  The new Davidic King shall be “Spirit-filled” (see Jesus and the Spirit in Lk. 3:22; 4:1, 14, 18).

4. “… and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord. Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide” (v. 3). This indicates the wisdom, understanding, and knowledge of the coming Messiah. “But he shall judge the poor with justice and decide fairly for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth” (vv. 3-4). The Messiah to come will be a friend of the poor and afflicted; he will condemn the wicked. He will be just and faithful (v. 5).

5. Then follows an image-laden description of Universal Peace under the rule of the new Davidic King — a paradise where wolf and lamb, calf and lion, cow and bear will live together, and a little child, playing in the viper’s den, shall lead them (vv. 6-8). “The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord” (v. 9).

6. 2nd Reading, Rom. 15:4-9 — Paul to the Romans: The Scriptures were “written for our instruction.” By your enduring faith and by the encouragement of the Scriptures, have hope (vv. 4-5). May God “grant you to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus, that… you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 6).  

7. “Welcome one another, as Christ welcomed you for the glory of God” (v. 7). “For Christ became a minister to the uncircumcised… to confirm the promises to the patriarchs, so that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy” (vv. 8-9).

8. Gospel, Mt. 3:1-12 — The Preaching of John the Baptist.  “In those days, John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!'” (vv. 1-2).  He is “A voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.'” (v. 3). 

9. John wore an austere dress, “made of camel’s hair, and a leather belt” (v. 4), similar to the prophet Elijah (see 2 Kgs. 1:8), who was expected to come before God’s kingdom is manifested. Many from Jerusalem, and all Judea, and the whole region around the Jordan “were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins” (vv. 5-6). 

10. But to the Pharisees and Sadducees, he said, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.” Do not claim that Abraham is your father. “For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones” (vv. 7-9). “Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire” (v. 10).

11. “I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (v.11). The baptism by Jesus will be an immersion in the cleansing and purifying power of God’s Spirit. “His winnowing fan is in his hand…. He will gather the wheat but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire” (v. 12). 

12. Today’s Liturgy of the Word describes the coming of the Messiah from the stump of Jesse and God’s reign of universal peace. We need to prepare by loving one another, especially the afflicted and the poor, by being just and glorifying God through good works.

13. Prayer —  Almighty and merciful God, may no earthly undertaking hinder those who set out in haste to meet your Son. But may our  learning of heavenly wisdom gain us admittance to your company, through Christ, our Lord. Amen (Collect of today’s Holy Mass).

Come, Lord Jesus, come!

Prayers, stay safe, God bless!