Second Sunday of Advent 2020
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: December 6, 2020
Who passed on the faith to you? Which people led you to embrace the faith? Perhaps a parent, or a grandparent. Perhaps a teacher or a priest. Perhaps a friend. Who was an instrument in preparing your heart for faith?
John the Baptist is described as a messenger “the voice of one crying out in the wilderness.” Calling out to people, “Prepare the way of the Lord.” People from the Judean countryside and from Jerusalem were going out to him to be baptized in the river Jordan and to confess their sins.
John the Baptist was preparing their hearts for faith. The season of Advent is a time waiting, of preparation, to open our hearts to faith. What were those people waiting for? For the Messiah, for God’s salvation? What are our hearts waiting for at this time?
Some of you are perhaps waiting to be loved, or to be accepted by someone, or to be healed in some way, or to be forgiven, or to be at peace with someone. During Advent, whatever else, we are all waiting and preparing our hearts for faith.
A child within it’s mother’s womb is waiting, but that child does not know what to expect, cannot imagine life outside the womb. We are like that child in the womb as we live in this life. We are waiting for heaven. In this life we cannot imagine what that heavenly life outside life in this world will be like. We see only in faith.
In our second reading from Peter today, he speaks of the patience of God with us and of our need to wait patiently and in peace. When we do not see the final goal, when we do not feel the presence of God in our lives. Then we need that faith that allows us to wait in peace.
During the season of Advent, the Prophet Isaiah is a focus. You could say that Isaiah is the prophet of Advent. In today’s first reading, Isaiah speaks of how “Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low.” What are the mountains and hills that are obstacles to our faith?
Like John the Baptist we need to help one another to prepare our hearts for faith. We need to help others to persevere in faith.
One important way we do this for others is by the words we use, the words we speak to others. Our words matter. Do the words I speak to others prepare the heart of others for faith, or are they obstacles to faith? Isaiah has God speaking these words, “Comfort, O comfort my people,… speak tenderly to Jerusalem.” We need to speak words that comfort others.
In the coming of Jesus the word of God has spoken to humanity, it is Good News. A word of forgiveness. Someone once said that the whole story of Israel is the story of unfaithfulness forgiven.
Like John the Baptist we need to prepare the hearts of others for faith. The words we speak to others need to be words that bring comfort, words that are good news, words that are able to prepare the heart of another for the grace of God. The words I speak to others can either be like a mountain blocking faith or they can prepare the heart for faith.
Be a John the Baptist today, be a messenger that helps people around you to have a heart prepared for faith. Reflect on the words you speak to others. Are they good news, are they able to open the heart for faith?