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Console, Console My People

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The liturgy of the Second Sunday of Advent invites us to see in John the Baptism a figure of the Advent-people called to give consolation to a world that groans for salvation. As John the Baptist was called to proclaim the coming the Christ in his days, so the Church of the end-times — US — is also called to proclaim the final coming of the Lord in glory.

The beginning of the book of Consolations opens up the theme.

"A voice cries out…" (vv. 3-5). In the Gospels this passage is presented in such a way as to present John the Baptist as the voice crying out in the wilderness. This way of the rendering the Isaianic text was made possible by the fact that there is no punctuation in the original Hebrew text:
"A voice cries out [I]n the wilderness…" and "A voice cries out [i]n the wilderness…" are both possible renderings. The second is the way the LXX translates this passage of Isaiah and it was what the Gospel writers read.

But he who proclaims must also wait for what is proclaimed. Psalm 85 provides the key for interiorizing the kind of waiting that the Advent-people must go through.

In the midst of the political and agricultural crises that the psalmist experiences with his people, he prays for "Peace", the peace that only the Lord can give. "Peace" is nothing else but God — love, truth, justice and peace — being present once more among those who are loyal to Him. See full article.

Such waiting cannot be passive, however. It must be an active waiting. This is what 2 Peter states when the author puts together the participles in a statement that says: "waiting and hastening the Day of the Lord"

The author points out that the community of faith should be "waiting and hastening the Day of the Lord." The Advent-lifestyle, therefore, is a combination of "waiting" and "making happen" ("to hasten"). In Acts 3:19-20 we find this statement:

Repent, therefore, and be converted
that your sins may be wiped away
and the Lord may grant you times of refreshment
and send you the Messiah
already appointed for you, Jesus

Note that here "times of refreshment" is made to depend on the previous actions of "repent" and "be converted." This is very Jewish: eschatological hopes are "realized" in the conduct of those who await it. Thus, in 2 Peter 3: 10-14: the life that characterizes holiness and devotion is the door that opens up for the entrance of the Lord’s Day. Or in the words of the author "We await a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells." See full article

The Sunday liturgy is so rich in resonances that one should refrain from commenting on all three readings together with the responsorial psalm. One can limit the homily on the words of the Psalm 85, or on 2 Peter. Or one can also refer to both the first reading and the Gospel, where the selection from Isaiah is taken up as the mission of the Church during this Advent: to proclaim with a "loud voice" the consolation that comes. Do not forget however that John the Baptist himself makes his proclamation from out of the Desert Experience, of a spiritual communion with the People of God whom Yahweh led through the Wilderness. It is in this Desert Experience that he who proclaims is also able to wait for the realization of the Good News that he has proclaimed.

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