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  • Bill Miller

Scripture Reflection, December 10, 2023, Second Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11; 2 Peter 3:8-14 Mark 1:1-8

Recently, my friend Tom was angry at himself for failing to do something he had promised his wife, Jeanne, he would do. He berated himself for his callousness by saying: “I am so stupid!” Jeanne, recognizing his anger and his negativity, instantly and softly said: “You are not stupid.” She comforted him, and he quickly recognized the error of berating himself. More important, he appreciated the truthfulness and love his wife had just demonstrated toward him.

We can recognize the same love and truthfulness in today’s reading from the prophet Isaiah. This passage is one of the most comforting and reassuring in the Old Testament. God’s words, delivered by Isaiah, are meant to bring relief to a people (the Israelites) who have fallen upon hard times, in large part because of their own selfishness. Those same words could apply to any one of us today, when we stop to consider a particularly difficult circumstance we are dealing with at the moment. God knows when we need comfort and support - and God wants us to feel the divine embrace of love; even when we are dealing with our own need for forgiveness.

In today’s reading from the Second Letter of Saint Peter, we are reminded that God is also patient with us - always wanting to give us opportunities to change our ways, to repent and ask for forgiveness. Additionally, God wants to inspire us to offer loving care and forgiveness to those who wrong us. But old habits die hard. So we are called to be patient with others, with ourselves and with God.

When John the Baptist comes on the scene, as we learn in today’s gospel from Mark, many people are inspired by his words. They are ready to repent and to be baptized. As we journey this Advent road, are we ready to be inspired by the Holy Spirit…ready to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where we ask for God’s love and mercy…ready to forgive others for injuring us…ready to forgive God for not answering our prayers in exactly the way we wanted them answered?

The season of Advent offers a special invitation to reflect upon our lives, to repent of our sinfulness. But it is hard work, challenging work. God knows that. God is patient, and tender, and loving. As long as we are willing to try - to really work at it - God will wait, and God will help…giving comfort to each of us in this, our particular time of need.

by: Bill Miller

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