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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Dec. 5, 2010

By Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service

December 5, Second Sunday of Advent

Cycle A Readings:

1) Isaiah 11:1-10

Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17

2) Romans 15:4-9

Gospel: Matthew 3:1-12

As I have gotten older, I have begun to love the season of Advent -- almost more than Christmas. The spiritual focus of the weeks leading up to the celebration of Jesus' birth is a great escape from the overly commercialized "Xmas" we find in the stores 10-12 weeks before the actual day. The gods of materialism, over-busyness, glamour, indulgence, pride and greed come forth and do all they can to upstage the real star of the season.

Years ago, I read a book called "In the Hall of the Dragon King," by Stephen R. Lawhead. In one scene, one character is trying to convince another that the God Most High is better than the other gods. The conversation goes like this:

"The Most High God is One. The gods of earth and sky are but the chaff blown before the mighty wind of his coming. They cannot stand in his presence, and even now their power grows weak."

"But what makes this nameless god different from all the others?"

"He cares."

In my estimation, not one of the Xmas gods cares for us or even thinks about us beyond our wallets and lines of credit. The Gospel from week two of Advent gives us a picture of God that is similar to the one in Lawhead's book as John the Baptist describes Jesus this way:

"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."

It is clear that the Messiah that John is talking about is serious and all-powerful. He is one who separates the chaff from the wheat, the shell from the seed, the fluff from the substance.

As Christmas approaches, I think this Gospel is calling us to lay aside the "chaff" of the worldly celebration and lift high the seed of the Father, the one he planted in the world 2,000 years ago and planted in our hearts at baptism.

Advent reminds us that we now await the eternal harvest, and until then we wait and pray, "Come, Lord Jesus!"


What are the worldly aspects of this time of year that distract you the most? What are some things we can do to stay focused on Jesus as Christmas approaches?


"He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire" (Matthew 3:12).


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