Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11 2 Peter 3: 8-14 : Mark 1: 1-8
Christmas shopping, though fun, can be difficult. Did you hear about the guy that bought his wife a beautiful diamond ring for Christmas? A friend of his said, “I thought she wanted one of those sporty 4-Wheel drive vehicles.” “She did,” he replied. “But where am I gonna find a fake Jeep?” A lot of commercial ads everywhere is inviting us to shop for Christmas. As we go around shopping during this season let us not forget the important spiritual preparation for the season by meditating on the scriptures.
All three readings for this weekend focus on the absolute necessity of our readying ourselves by repentance and reparation for Christ’s coming. In the first reading, Isaiah assures his people that the Lord will restore their homeland to them and care for them as a shepherd cares for the sheep. Today’s responsorial Psalm also speaks of the return of shalom (perfect peace), and pardon to the people.
The second reading gives an answer to those who scoff at the expectation of the second coming of Christ, explaining that God’s way of reckoning time is different from ours and that God has His own reasons for delaying Christ’s second coming. It gives us the assurance that Jesus is sure to come again although we do not know when. Hence, while we wait, we should be leading lives of holiness and godliness.
Unlike other gospels, Mark opens his gospel with the preparation for Christ’s public life, in which the chief actor is John the Baptist. This wilderness prophet proclaims the “here-ness” of an event and person every Jew was anticipating. “One more powerful than I,” John announces, “is to come after me….I have baptized you in water; He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit.” The essence of his message is “repent and return to the ways of the Lord.” He preaches that the appropriate behavior for those preparing “the way of the Lord” is to be baptized “as they confess their sins.”
John’s message calls us also to confront and confess our sins; to turn away from them in sincere repentance; to receive God’s forgiveness; and most importantly, to look to Jesus. Do we need to receive God’s forgiveness? There are basically two reasons why we fail to receive forgiveness. The first is that we fail to repent, and the second is that we fail to forgive.
The manager of the Sears store in downtown Seattle says an elderly man has repaid — with interest — cash the man says he stole in the late 1940s. KING-TV reports that the man hand-delivered an envelope Monday addressed to “Sears manager.” Inside were a note and a $100 bill. The note said the man stole $20 to $30 from a cash register decades ago and wanted to pay back $100. Manager Gary Lorentson says he thinks the man’s conscience “has been bothering him for the past 60 years.” Nov 30, 2011 Yahoo news reports. This man taught everyone that It’s never too late to do the right thing.
We are invited by the Church to prepare for Christmas by repenting for our sins and renewing our lives so that Jesus may be reborn in us. Let us ask with Alexander Pope the challenging question, “What do I profit, if Jesus is born in thousands of cribs all over the world unless he is born in my heart and in my life?” We should allow Jesus to be reborn in our lives. People around us should recognize Jesus’ rebirth in our lives by our sharing love, unconditional forgiveness, compassionate and merciful heart and spirit of humble and committed service. Let us accept the challenge of John the Baptist to turn this advent season into a real spiritual homecoming by making the necessary preparations for the fresh arrival of our Lord and Savior Jesus into our hearts and lives.