GOOD NEWS! HERE IS YOUR GOD!
Isaiah 40: 1-5, 9-11,
2 Peter 3:8-14,
“If you want some good news these days, the only place to find it is in the Bible.” I heard someone say that recently and I tend to agree! It is a comfort to know that in the word of God we have truly good news that we can rely on. The Second Sunday of Advent presents us with the good news of salvation through the coming of the Messiah.
Chapter 40 of Isaiah begins the Book of Consolation. The prophet speaks of the future return of the Israelites from Babylon back to Jerusalem. It is indeed one of the most consoling passages in the Scriptures, filled with glad tidings: “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated.” The good news is: “Here is your God! Here comes with power the Lord God.”
There are few more tender passages than this one: “Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading his ewes with care.” Let us rejoice in the good news of salvation the Lord gives us in today’s word. Psalm 85, the Responsorial, continues this thought…the Lord proclaims peace, salvation, justice and truth – the Messianic kingdom.
This gospel presents John the Baptist as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in the first reading. John is that “herald’s voice in the desert crying, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, clear him a straight path.’” John proclaimed a baptism of repentance which led to the forgiveness of sins, and attracted crowds in great numbers.
John’s baptism did not convey the Holy Spirit but he prophesied: “One more powerful than I is to come after me…he will baptize you in the Holy Spirit.” It was Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI who said, “The entire mission of the Messiah can be summed up in this: to baptize humanity in the Holy Spirit.” Truly, John’s announcement was good news then and is still good news today!
SECOND LETTER OF PETER
For the last few weeks, the Second Coming of the Lord has been one of the themes of our Sunday readings. Our reading today from Second Peter continues this train of thought. The Lord’s coming is delayed because of his generous patience, to allow time for repentance. This passage gives a graphic description of the day of the Lord when it says, “the heavens will be destroyed in flames and the elements will melt away in a blaze.” What should be our response? Holiness, in conduct and devotion, “looking for the coming of the day of God, and trying to hasten it.” So, we have to repent, be holy, and make our lives “a straight path for the Lord.”
After hearing the second reading, we may be tempted to ask, where is the “good news,” if everything is to be destroyed by fire? The answer is, Jesus is the good news! It is Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who gathers his lambs and feeds his sheep. It is Jesus who baptizes us in the Holy Spirit. It is Jesus who “delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10).
We try to hasten the Lord’s coming because we long to see his face. The good news is only and always: “Here is your God…He will come and save you” (cf. Isaiah 35:4). Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!