Second Sunday of Advent: Quiet Prayer and Penance
2nd Sunday of Advent – Year B
Many people like to fantasize about the end of the world. Movies like Armageddon and The Day After present apocalyptical visions of the aftermath of nuclear holocaust or tidal waves. We like to watch and read about these kinds of things, but we do not really take these stories seriously.
This Sunday’s Gospel, however, is a sober reminder that we should take things seriously because not only will the material world eventually end, but so too will our lives. Civilizations grow and collapse. Countries are founded and cease to exist based on different moral codes and economic principles. And every day people pass away. We are reminded of this now more than ever as we live through this coronavirus pandemic and as we watch our country and others throughout the world become less stable and more agitated.
And yet, as Christian Catholics we do not need to fear the end of the world or our lives because we are (or at least should strive to be) waiting for Jesus Christ to come. And, even more, not only are we waiting, but we also experience in a very immediate way both here and now that Jesus comes to us in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the other sacraments, in the Word, and in each other. We encounter Him at every moment of our lives, so the moment of our death or the end of the world, which for all we know could happen tomorrow or in 1,000 years, will be a joyful encounter with Christ knowing that our union with Him will be complete.
The questions that we must ask ourselves are these: Do I change when Jesus comes to me (in the sacraments, for example)? Do I invite and permit Jesus to change me when He comes? Frequently, whether consciously or subconsciously, we place many obstacles in the way to prevent Jesus from coming into our lives and our hearts. The primary obstacle is sin. And yet, God has given us a remedy for sin: the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Another obstacle is our own weakness and woundedness due to which we often have a distorted image of God. And yet, again, this is not an obstacle for God as long as we keep inviting Him into our lives to heal our deepest wounds and distortions and open our eyes, years, hearts, minds, and hearts to see, hear, contemplate, and receive Him as He really is.
Advent is the time of year when we, hopefully, still ourselves, enter into a spirit of quiet prayer and penance—even against the spirit of consumption that the world promotes—and prepare to encounter Christ who is coming and who is present in the here and now. Insofar as we live in Jesus’ presence and in a state of grace, we have absolutely nothing to fear. Indeed, we will live with joy because every moment of our lives bring us ever closer to the moment of our ultimate encounter with Christ through death and resurrection.
Readings for the Second Sunday of Advent: Lectionary 5
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