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Advent: Patience Has a Purpose

Advent: Patience Has a Purpose

Two purple candles are lit for the Second Sunday of Advent. (photo: Shutterstock)


User’s Guide to the Second Sunday of Advent

Sunday, Dec. 10, is the Second Sunday of Advent. Mass readings: Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11Psalm 85:9-10-11-12, 13-142 Peter 3:8-14Mark 1:1-8.

The second reading in today’s Mass speaks to us of “the fire next time” and reminds us of the need to be ready for the coming of the Lord. We do well to heed this sacred teaching and warning. We can reflect on four aspects of today’s second reading.

The text says, that “with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay his promise.” Though the Lord seems long-delayed in coming (about 2,000 years!), the text tells us that this delay is so that as many souls as possible can be saved. The text further says that God wants us to come to repentance. God’s patience should not be seen as an excuse for presumption, but, rather, a time for repentance. This is no time to be saying, “Later.” It is a time to be serious about repenting and about preparing to meet the Lord.

The text says, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved by fire, and the earth and everything done on it will be found out.” God is going to set this world on fire one of these days. When He comes it will be: sudden (the text says that the day of the Lord will come like a thief); shocking (the text speaks of the roaring heavens and of a fire that overwhelms; all will be dissolved by fire.

This image, though shocking, should not alarm us if we are already on fire. At Pentecost, as well as at our individual baptism and confirmation, the Lord lights a fire within us in order to set us on fire, to bring us up to the temperature of glory. For those in the Lord, the “weather” on that day will seem just fine.

If God is a Holy Fire, then we must become fire ourselves in order to endure the day of his coming); showing (the text says that all things will be revealed. And this fire burns away the masks that many people wear. For those who were unrepentant, imagine their embarrassment and fear as their secrets, sins and past injustices and ultimate defeat are disclosed. It’s a bad scene, really).

Prescription proclaimed: The text says, “Since everything is to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be, conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion.” In a word, we should be “fiery.” God has lit a fire within us to purify and refine us. Hence, on that day when the Lord will judge by fire, we will pass through. Although some final purifications (purgation) may take place, because the fire has been kindled in us and has already been fanned into a flame, we will be purified, not destroyed.

Perfection promised: The text says, “But according to his promise we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” This text presents the possibility that the created world will not so much be destroyed as purified by God’s fiery judgment. While it may also signify a total destruction of all that now exists and a replacement of it by new heavens and a new earth, some argue that it means that the created world will instead be renewed rather than destroyed and replaced.

God will restore all things in Christ!


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