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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Dec. 4, 2011

By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service

December 4, Second Sunday of Advent

Cycle B Readings:

1) Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11

Psalm 85:9-14

2) 2 Peter 3:8-14

Gospel: Mark 1:1-8

There is nothing like studying a foreign language to make one learn and appreciate how grammar works. I grew up speaking English as my native language, so I didn't care all that much about English grammar -- but when I studied Spanish in high school and Greek in college I figured out that certain parts of speech functioned differently than I at first thought.

For example, the word "advent" means "coming" -- and I always placed that word in the future tense. As in: "He's coming to the restaurant for dinner," meaning that he's not here yet but at some point he will be.

With that rationale, "Christ is coming again" could be construed as some event in the future that really doesn't affect me yet. So for anyone prone to procrastination, understanding Christ's promise in that way is simply an invitation to postpone the personal change that conversion entails.

But Advent is not simply about preparing for some future occurrence. If I really understand the word "coming" as a present participle (which it is), the "advent," or "coming" of Christ, means that it is a continuous action.

Advent reminds us not only that Christ will come again at the end of time (on a day and hour known only to the Father) but that Christ is breaking into human history -- indeed, everyone's story -- all the time.

As today's epistle explains, there is really no "delay" on God's part -- thus, we should always live our lives in expectation, always ready, like John the Baptist, to "prepare the way of the Lord."

Also, as is clear in both the first reading and the Gospel, that preparation, first of all, entails repentance and restoration of right relationship with God.

Unlike human beings, God does not procrastinate or delay. Through the Son, he continually reaches out in love to you and me.

According to the grammar of faith, we need Advent as a reminder not to procrastinate in our response to God's invitation.


How have you "procrastinated" in your response to God's invitation of conversion and change? How can this season of Advent strengthen your resolve to prepare the way of the Lord in your life?


"What sort of persons ought you to be, conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God" (2 Peter 3:11-12).


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