Second Sunday of Advent
December 8, 2019 Cycle A
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E., Chaplain,
Saint John Paul II National Shrine
 Washington, D.C.

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In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

In order to enter into the world, Jesus needed a woman to be his mother and a man who would baptize him and prepare the people to receive him. Mary and John the Baptist are the Advent figures. We need the sweetness of Mary and the harshness of John in order to be ready to welcome Christ. We need them both in order to mature in our relationship with God. However, in the end, there will be only sweetness.

The mission of the Forerunner did not end with his martyrdom. Now, in the communion of the saints, he continues to help us prepare for Jesus’ coming: “The voice of one crying in the desert, prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths” (Mt 3:3). There are many obstacles to tear down in order to make straight the paths for Jesus’ arrival: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt 3:1). We cannot procrastinate our conversion any longer. Repentance is to submit ourselves to God and allow him to be the center of our lives. Conversion never ends. Our commitment produces the fruit of hope. In the second reading, Saint Paul says: “[B]y endurance and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rm 15:4).

The greatest obstacle that prevents Jesus from coming to us is our negligence. The Precursor invites us to conquer our inaction and walk the path that leads us to our salvation. Words are not enough. Engagement is needed. The Baptist says: “Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance” (Mt 3:8). We must not put off the decisions necessary for the fulfillment of our lives. The psalm says: “As for me, to be near God is my good” (Ps 73;28). Our faith cannot be only a façade, like that of the many Pharisees and Sadducees who came to his baptism. To them the Precursor said: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” (Mt 3:7).

The fire of the Holy Spirit purifies our hearts from negligence. The Forerunner declares: “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire […] the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire” (Mt 3:12). We constantly need to invoke the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his grace. We only find true satisfaction and joy in the reception of God’s gift. Jesus comes to us through the action of the Holy Spirit. In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah says: “The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him” (Is 11:2). We need to ask the Holy Spirit to rest upon us with his seven gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. The Holy Spirit impels us to seek God and his glory.

Negligence has its roots in pride. We put off decisions on how to attain the most important things in our lives because we fear losing ourselves. The antidote to pride is the virtue of humility. Saint John the Baptist teaches us how to be humble through his example: “[T]he one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals” (Mt 3:11).

John’s life was centered in God and the instauration of his kingdom on earth: "He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.  The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world"  (Jn 1:8-9).  Humility is to be centered in God and find our own glory in him. In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah says: “[H]is delight shall be the fear of the LORD” (Is 11:3). We are humble when we allow God to rule over us, to transform our lives. Today’s psalm says: “Justice shall flower in his days, and profound peace, till the moon be no more. May he rule from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth” (Ps 72:7–8).

May the example and intercession of Saint John the Baptist help us prepare the way for Jesus’ coming. May the Holy Spirit help us overcome our negligence and walk the path that leads to the fulfillment of our lives.  Amen.

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