Second Sunday of Advent
Allow Advent to open your imagination. These classic and famous readings this week from the prophet Isaiah and the Gospel of Mark are easy to imagine because of the descriptive imagery used by the authors. This is the blessing of this grace-filled season of Advent. Let’s look at just one of the images in today’s readings. There is the highway.
We have to acknowledge that the prophet Isaiah is writing about this highway in the year 732 B.C.. Isaiah is not referring to I-95, four lanes, and cruising at 80 miles an hour. Isaiah is writing to the Southern two tribes of Israel who were in what has become known as the Babalonian Exile. The Babylonians had sacked Jerusalem, burnt the sacred Temple, and had taken the people of Judah into captivity. They were away from their homes and native land for over 70 years. They were scared and confused. “By the waters of Babylon, there we sat and wept.” The Persians came into power and were able to defeat the Babylonians and actually allowed the people of Judah to return home. This is where the text of Isaiah picks up. We hear this famous line which Handel’s Messiah immortalized. “COMFORT! Take Comfort O my people.” Basically, “let’s go home!” Let’s get back to our country of familiarity, of safety, of our own.” But wait, to get back to Jerusalem, they have a long way to travel over mountains and through valleys and deserts. The ancestors of old, after coming out of Egypt and under the direction of Moses, were wondering around this same land for 40 years before they could find Jerusalem. Now, these people have to do the same thing. But, the trip will be worth it! This the prophet speaks to his people. Take Comfort. God will be with us. We are going to get home. And when we get home, we will rebuild our temple. The sins we have committed have been washed away. We have done our penance, paid the price. Let’s go home. Do not let those great physical barriers keep us from our home. God will take care of us. He will fill those valleys, level those mountains, and we will have clear sailing back to Jerusalem as if we have a highway!
In this Advent Season, in midst of this wilderness of a world that we live in, let us take great Comfort in knowing that we have the home of our faith, our Church, our community, our God who we can go to for repentance, for strength, for hope, and who promises to come to us with great love.