Second Sunday of Advent
December 10, 2017 – Year B
Readings: Is 40:1-5, 9-11 / Ps 85 / 2 Pt 3:8-14 / Mk 1:1-8
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
The gospel today is taken from the beginning of the Gospel of Mark. This year we are in Year B of the liturgical season, and for the most part, we will be listening to the Gospel of Mark. The Gospels of John and Luke will come in every now and then, but the 16 chapters of the Gospel of Mark will be our focus in this liturgical season.
Although this is the Second Sunday of Advent, this is from the beginning of Mark’s gospel. In fact, Mark the Evangelist wrote it this way, as it is written in Isaiah. Before this, he said, “The Beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” The Gospel – the good news. Everyone likes to hear good news. You enjoy hearing your friends say you look wonderful today. Or that you’re doing a great job. Telling you that you are forgiven. Telling you that no matter who you are, what you are, or what you have done in the past, God still loves you unconditionally. This is what we should have in mind when we wake up each morning.
While I was in our diocese in the Philippines, one of our priests died. I attended his funeral, because he was one of my old friends; we were in the ministry together. As I’d expected, there were lots of priests. He was a priest, and we should be there.
But that funeral reminded me of where I am going. I should really be prepared every single day. As Jesus said, “No one knows the day nor the hour.” This is what our Holy Mother Church tells us in the first part of the season of Advent. Until December 16, the readings will not yet tell us about preparation for our celebration of Our Lord’s 2017th birthday this Christmas. Instead, they tell us about our preparation for the Second Christmas, the Second Coming, or the day that we will be born into life eternal to enter into the everlasting kingdom. This is the best way to prepare our hearts and souls.
I always have in mind the month I spent with the Trappist monks on one of the islands of the Philippines. After their night prayers and before they go to bed, they go out and kiss the ground, and say, “Tomorrow I may die, but I will be so happy to meet My Lord in person.” That’s the essence of preparation. If we do that every single day, every time we get up in the morning, we will be reminded that we are being given a chance for a new day, a new life, a new beginning, and to look forward not only to a happy day but to a life that will never end.
While I was still swimming in the Pacific Ocean, Pope Francis appointed our new bishop. We have a Bishop Designate of the Richmond Diocese. Last year there was a bishop who celebrated a funeral Mass for his brother-in-law in our sister parish, and after the Mass, one of our parishioners there asked him to give us a special blessing. He was already on his way out, because he had another appointment. The parishioner said, “When I was growing up, whenever the bishop visited our church he always gave us a special blessing.”
But that bishop said, “You have just received Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in Holy Communion. I couldn’t do anything better than that. Even the Pope couldn’t give you a better blessing than what you have just received.” In this Mass, for those of us who will receive Jesus in Holy Communion, that is the greatest blessing that we can ever have in this world. And He is the one who will give us strength, who will give us guidance, enlighten us, and point us to the way, the truth, and the light.
And, by the way, the bishop that I was talking about in my story is Most Reverend Barry Knestout, the Bishop Designate of the Richmond Diocese. We are so blessed to have him with us as our shepherd and so, for the intention of our new bishop, let us pray:
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.