Second Sunday of Advent

December 4, 2016
Second Sunday of Advent
Lectionary: 4

A Reading for the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 3:1-12
John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea
and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said:
A voice of one crying out in the desert,
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
John wore clothing made of camel’s hair
and had a leather belt around his waist.
His food was locusts and wild honey.
At that time Jerusalem, all Judea,
and the whole region around the Jordan
were going out to him
and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River
as they acknowledged their sins.

When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees
coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers!
Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.
And do not presume to say to yourselves,
‘We have Abraham as our father.’
For I tell you,
God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees.
Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit
will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
I am baptizing you with water, for repentance,
but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.
I am not worthy to carry his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand.
He will clear his threshing floor
and gather his wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Second Sunday of Advent
In today’s Gospel we experience John the Baptist urging us to “repent, prepare the way of the Lord, and make straight his paths.” St. Francis de Sales comments on this passage:

“Make straight the paths of the Lord.” Roads that twist and turn too much, only fatigue and mislead travelers. Our life contains many tortuous ways that we must make straight for our Lord’s coming. First, we must correct our mixed intentions and have only one, that of pleasing God by changing our heart. Like the mariner who always keeps his eye on the needle of the compass as he steers his boat, we too must always have our eyes open to penitence, that is, a change of heart.

In changing our hearts, we return to God’s image and likeness in us. In repentance we experience tribulation and sorrow for having offended God’s goodness. We are no longer slaves to our emotions. Our inclinations, feelings, and emotions are now directed toward the love of God and neighbor. We see plainly that it is a most reasonable thing to be repentant for our great faults when we consider attentively the benefits of a virtuous life. All acts of repentance are made for the sake of the beauty, honor, dignity and happiness of our own well being. A change of heart leads to an even disposition.

The perfection of penance is to have a holy love for God that overflows into love of neighbor. The love of God and self-centered love continually struggle within our heart and cause us great travail. True self-love serves God. When divine love reigns in our hearts it tames all other loves. It places our natural emotions and desires under the Divine plan and service. Let us therefore walk with determination before God like John the Baptist. Let us be a voice crying out that we must prepare the way and make straight the path of the Lord, so that receiving Him in this life, we may enjoy Him in the next.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)