2nd Sunday of Advent

Sunday, December 9, 2018

First reading: Bar. 5:1-9

Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever: wrapped in the cloak of justice from God, bear on your head the mitre that displays the glory of the eternal name. For God will show all the earth your splendor: you will be named by God forever the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship. Up, Jerusalem! stand upon the heights; look to the east and see your children

gathered from the east and the west at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that they are remembered by God. Led away on foot by their enemies they left you: but God will bring them back to you borne aloft in glory as on royal thrones. For God has commanded that every lofty mountain be made low, and that the age-old depths and gorges be filled to level ground, that Israel may advance secure in the glory of God. The forests and every fragrant kind of tree have overshadowed Israel at God’s command; for God is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory, with his mercy and justice for company.

Second reading: Phil. 1:4-6,8-11

Brothers and sisters: I pray always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

Gospel: Lk. 3:1-6

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert. John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

In other words Fr. Patricio R. delos Reyes Jr., SVD (Liceo Verbi Divini, Tacloban)

John Lennon sang that “love is wanting and needing to be loved.” This is human love and is opposite of the love and affection of Christ that Paul expressed in the second reading: “How I long for all of you with the affection of Jesus Christ.” This must be what pure love is because the love of Christ is pure and chaste love. Paul claimed he had this kind of love. He loved those he served with affection—the love of Christ.

I am overcome with envy because this continues to be a struggle for me—to long for others with the affection of Christ.

Longing has the element of wanting, of needing, and of attraction. But the case of Paul is a pure and chaste wanting and needing. His attraction is purely to Christ that he saw in people. His longing has no shade of possessiveness, selfishness, and of self-gratification because it is solely founded and driven by the love and affection of Christ that is the most pure and chaste.

This kind of affection is hard to find because human love is always selfish, self-centered, and self-gratifying. I find this in God and in Christ but not in humans unless the human heart is fully open to the transforming love of Christ that has transformed the heart of Saul to become Paul—from being persecutor to protector and defender of Christians. I must transform what John Lennon sang to become: Loving and longing, wanting and needing to love with Christ’s love.

Tags: Bible reflection, Witness to the Word