December 6: Second Sunday of Advent. Readings: 1. Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11; Psalm: YY; 2. 2 Peter 3:8-14; Gospel: Mark 1:1-8.
Communicated through today’s readings is a basic, yet profound, sense of what is meant by the term “gospel” / “good news”. And that is really appropriate in these days leading up to our Christmas celebrations.
Isaiah the prophet supplies the initial understanding of what is announced as good news for Israel. His Hebrew text uses a word that, in the New Testament, is translated as Gospel. So, the first reading heralds the arrival of a new era when God’s special presence will be felt and experienced afresh. And the voice that is to announce this good news in the wilderness foretells a welcome return to better times. Accompanying that message is the image of the shepherd who represents that caring presence, the source of the joy about to enter everyone’s heart.
The extract from 2 Peter is similarly encouraging. The future is deemed to be a time of waiting for the day that marks the beginning of the end-time. As Christian believers, this particular time frame indicates that we are called to follow the path divinely mapped out for us and leading to a holy outcome.
Mark the evangelist is also guiding our thoughts into that pattern of thinking when he connects Isaiah, John the Baptist and Jesus the Lord who is coming. Together, all three biblical personalities make clear what God has been doing to bring about the decreed fulfilment of joyful good news. The future is, therefore, defined in and through the arrival of Jesus, whose life, words and deeds announce our willed well-being.
With these chosen texts, it is clear that we have been invited into the mystery of the Lord’s coming. It up to us to keep remembering both the Lord’s birth among us and his expected return as the Saviour at the end of time.