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Saturday, December 5, 2020

Reflection 2020-12-06 Second Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11; Psalm 85; 2 Peter 3:8-14; Mark 1:1-8
The Second Week of Advent is about Faith. Some Bible translations translate the Greek word for faith as trust or believe. These words can be used as synonyms then. Belief goes beyond intellectual knowledge that God exists. It is knowing based on the experiential knowledge, an encounter with God that results in Trust because we know the Person we experienced.
This is why the First Reading expresses confidence God is coming soon and calls us to prepare his way by making straight in the desert a highway for God. This tells us to remove any obstacle that will hinder his coming. John the Baptist shows us how to do this: come for baptism and confess our sins. For those who had been baptized, there is no need to be baptized again. But Catholics believe, the Sacrament of Confession is a second baptism because the effect of this sacrament is the same as baptism: it wipes away our sins as long as we repent from them.
Peter said in the Second Reading that we are to lead lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God. God has called us to holiness because this is the only way to live in union with God. We do not live in union with God by our own efforts nor by our good works alone. We live in union with God through our Faith made visible in our works. James 2:22 tells us faith that works together with our good works perfect faith. Good works must reflect our faith. Good works that do not work together with faith is of no use just as faith without works is dead.
Faith looks forward to something in the future with certainty. The Readings today show what is certain: God comes with might, and his arm rules for him, his reward is with him and his recompense before him. When God comes, there will be judgment. But his coming is not to be feared as the First Reading says: do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God”. The coming of the Lord brings freedom and salvation.
If this is what the Lord brings when he comes, there is no need to be afraid. But there is a condition. The Psalm today says: he will speak peace to his people. Surely, his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. God’s salvation is for those who fear him. This word fear of the Lord does not mean being afraid of him. It is to stand in awe of the Lord, to recognize who he is, his power, his glory, the honor due to him. John the Baptist showed this when he said, the one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. John knows who he is and who the Messiah is. John admits his nothingness compared to the Messiah. This is what it means to prepare for the coming of the Lord in faith: to trust him, to stand in awe of him, to have the fear of the Lord.
Faith made visible in action is seen when we worship God in Spirit and in Truth, recognizing he is the One Almighty God, who loves us and cares for us.
Lord, let me not think my works will save me. Instead, let be realize, you are the One who saves me. I want to respond to you in my faith made visible in my actions because this is how I surrender myself to you. Let me see you as you are so I can worship you in Spirit and in Truth. May I have faith in you, believing you love me and want to save me. May this faith lead me to repent and turn my life to you. Jesus, I trust in you.

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