God Comes in Time
December 5, 2021 (readings)
- Second Sunday of Advent
- Beth Van de Voorde
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert. John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
Opening Prayer: Heavenly Father, I join your Church in prayer as we are one Sunday closer to celebrating the birth of your Son. You know how much I need Christ to be born anew in my life, and how much the world needs his birth. Prepare my heart and our world, a world made by your hands, for his coming. You are the Radiant Dawn that rises never to set again. Root my life in the hope that you are faithful to your promises. Let me receive the word that you have for me today.
God Comes in Time: The first verses of this chapter are dedicated to situating this reading in a very real moment in history. These are more than simple historical notes. They reveal to us a deeper truth: God comes in time. He truly enters our reality. Not generically, not virtually, but truly. Through his Incarnation, the Son of God enters the world as never before and changes it–redeems it–forever onward. He has not come symbolically; his coming is real, historical, and greater than anyone could imagine. He has taken on our flesh and comes to redeem us, to redeem the world. This is the great dawn which Advent comes to proclaim. Perhaps the Holy Spirit stirs our hearts to sit with this truth and let trust and love well up in our hearts.
He Loved Them to the End: Just as words and actions have meaning–they are not inconsequential or merely superficial as our virtual world might suggest–Christ comes, ready to assume the consequences of the redemption we so need and he so desires for us. His Passion is hinted already, in this telling of his birth, by the mention of Annas and Caiaphas. We will meet them again later in Holy Week. The mystery of the Incarnation and the Resurrection cannot be separated. May we allow the Holy Spirit to move our hearts, to let him whisper this truth into a place of suffering in our lives: He comes to meet us there.
The Voice: This passage attributes Isaiah’s prophecy to John the Baptist, who is the voice crying out in the wilderness, the message of the coming redemption. It also evokes the voice of God in Genesis, who spoke and things came to be. God’s word is effective. It does what it says. Here, his word brings to fulfillment his promise to send a Messiah. In our Advent journey to Bethlehem, let us invite the Holy Spirit to remind us of the promises he has made and fulfilled.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, I believe that you have chosen to enter our world–my world–and to take on our flesh, redeem us, so that we can live in union with you again. You invite me to walk each day closer to Heaven’s eternal embrace with you. For now, I continue living this Advent season, and I ask you with great hope: Fulfill your promises to me. Give me hope and trust to wait, and great love to keep on following you. Level the mountains in me that are obstacles to you. Raise up the valleys in which I sink as I try to follow you. Straighten the paths that lead me to your heart, Lord. If you say it, it will be done.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will spend some time in prayer and ask you to show me what mountains, valleys, or twisted roads in my life are keeping me from accepting the fulfillment of your promises.
For Further Reflection: Spend time in prayer with Psalm 139.
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