Bulletin: December 10, 2017
Second Sunday of Advent
Eagerness. Today’s readings combine to tell a story of eagerness—enthusiasm, zeal, wholehearted dedication. Eager anticipation is not a surprising topic for the Advent season, but very surprising, perhaps, is what our readings urge us to be eager about: the cleansing of sins. Isaiah tells God’s people to cry out loudly, proclaiming that the Lord will come with power to comfort them and forgive all their sins. Saint Peter inspires us to “be eager to be found without spot or blemish.” In Mark’s Gospel, people from all over stream to the Jordan, acknowledging their sins and repenting. John the Baptist preaches the mighty power of the Lamb of God, who takes away our sin. Today’s readings wake us up, reminding us how great God is. May we eagerly seek the powerful peace that God’s forgiveness brings.
The spiritual world is real, every bit as real as the material world. We cannot properly “see” spiritual realities like love, wisdom, and goodness, but we know they exist and influence our lives. We may not be able to point out hatred or sin on a map, but each one of us has encountered those destructive powers. Today’s readings testify to a fact we often overlook: sin is real. Sin changes our hearts and has real consequences for our relationships with others. For followers of Christ, acknowledging the reality of sin is not at all depressing. We naturally grow frustrated with ourselves when we sin, but Jesus has a different reaction. In his astonishing mercy, the Lord sees our sin as an occasion to show just how much he loves us—and how he loves us. Jesus Christ takes our own sin upon himself and accepts the punishment—death—that should rightfully come to us.
In dying for us, Jesus shattered the limitations of human life. Sin had doomed our earthly existence, but then Jesus died for us and gave us an all-access pass to everlasting life. Saint Peter speaks gently to us about Jesus’ gift. Jesus is patient with us, Peter assures us, “not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” Knowing that Jesus opened heaven to us, we can aim high each day, striving to avoid sin and do good. Not even the sky is our limit! Peter encourages us further. We are not frightened to hear “the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved by fire,” because we are not trapped in the material realm. The salvation of God is real and unifying. We hope one day to live—body and soul—in the “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” This is the Lord’s plan for us, a plan of deep and lasting peace.