Sunday, December 6, 2009

Second Sunday of Advent

Dear All,

On this Second Advent, we light another candle, this one for peace on the Advent Wreath. (I wrote about the wreath tradition last year).

The First Reading this week is from the Prophet Baruch a contemporary of Jeremiah, actually his secretary. Baruch’s prophecies, though from the Old Testament are not found in the Hebrew Bible. It was written in Babylon, during the Jewish captivity in the sixth century before Christ Era (BCE) and sent back to Jerusalem to be read at religious gatherings. In this week’s passage the prophet consoles the exiles with a reminder of messianic hope. We can clearly hear the prophet also speaking to those of us today who sometimes understand the mourning and misery much better than the salvation that is possible. His words challenge us to a radical hope and to the possibility of return from our own exiles of discouragement or spiritual alienation. Baruch is one who sees with God’s eyes the hope that is nearing fulfillment. During these hectic times full of anxieties, knowing to be “remembered by God” is a profound image that probably needs time to do its healing work.

The Second Reading is from the ‘letter of joy’ that Paul wrote, ironically from a prison (scholars are not sure if Rome or Ephesus) to the Philippians’ community for whom he holds special love and gratitude. I read it as if written to us today, as a call to greater holiness, to do even more of what we have been doing. The Advent season embodies the inherent tension of the kingdom, which is at hand, but is yet to come in fullness. The final prayer from Paul reminds us, during this often distracting season, about what is truly of value: Love… to increase… in knowledge… of perception to discern what is of value… for the glory and praise of God.

The Gospel according to Luke makes a particular point to situate his narrative about the Good News (i.e. Gospel) in the context of human history. He introduces the ministry of John the Baptist "in the fifteen year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar..."; then he goes on to mention other secular rulers: Pontius Pilate, Herod, Philip and Lsyanias; as well as religious authorities of the time: Annas and Caiphas. Yet for those who like to split hairs about historical precision,

Luke has some ambiguity in his ‘time-counting’ about the "fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar." The problem is that the Roman emperor Tiberius shared power with Augustus for two years and we do not know when Luke is beginning his count of the years of Tiberius' reign. Luke is probably smiling to himself about those historians that get hang up by this (what are two years in two thousand years of history?). In any case this is one of the several places in the Bible where we can anchor our believes that Jesus did exist in history, despite several books written in the 20th century to the contrary. To counter these, a Chicago Tribune court reporter, Lee Strobel, wrote several fascinating books about contemporary legalistic proof that Jesus actually walked this earth. Back to Luke…, after such a solemn introduction we expect something momentous about to happen. You would think that this was the announcement of the birth of Jesus. But it isn't (on this 2nd Sunday of Advent)... yet the event that is announced is earthshaking: The Word of the Lord came to John the Baptist who started to proclaim a baptism of repentance and calling people to prepare the way of the Lord. At that specific time and place, God intervened in human history, by inspiring John the Baptist to proclaim his presence. How did he convince John to do this? Was there a bolt of lightning, a vision in sky, a miraculous event? Or did John simply respond to the voice within him telling him to go into action? Given that scripture is void of any sort of marvel, I think it is telling us here, as in many other places that God often works his wonders in whispers (remember Elijah at the cave?).

The complete text of today’s Readings can be found at

With God’s Love and Blessings,



  1. Me gusto mucho tu comentario de hoy. You were inspired for sure, by the Lord I mean.


  2. …buenismo tu blog .. thank you for writing it