Sunday, December 7, 2014

Today's Mass Readings - Sunday, December 7, 2014 with Reflection

1ST READING - Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated; indeed, she has received from the hand of the Lord double for all her sins. A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low; the rugged land shall  be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. Go up onto a high mountain, Zion, herald of glad tidings; cry out at the top of your voice, Jerusalem, herald of good news! Fear not to cry out and say to the cities of Judah: Here is your God! 10 Here comes with power the Lord God, who rules by his strong arm; here is his reward with him, his recompense before him. 11 Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care.

P S A L M - Psalm 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14
R: Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
8 [9] I will hear what God proclaims; the Lord — for he proclaims peace to his people. 9 [10] Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him, glory dwelling in our land. (R) 10 [11] Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss. 11 [12] Truth shall spring out of the earth, and justice shall look down from heaven. (R) 12 [13]The Lord himself will give his benefits; our land shall yield its increase. 13 [14] Justice shall walk before him, and salvation, along the way of his steps. (R)

2ND READING - 2 Peter 3:8-14
Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved by fire, and the earth and everything done on it will be found out. 11 Since everything is to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be, conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved in flames and the elements melted by fire. 13 But according to his promise we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace.

Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths: all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
Mark 1:1-8
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God. 2As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’” John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He fed on locusts and wild honey. And this is what he proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming  after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”



The Christmas rush is officially on. The mad and frenetic days are here again. In these days, the local government begins to look for alternate routes for motorists in an attempt to divert traffic flow from the major thoroughfares where the malls and entertainment establishments are located. All roads lead to the malls and entertainment places once again.

         But while all the ads point to the mall and shopping centers, today’s Gospel points us to a different road — often unoccupied, free from traffic, and sometimes deserted: the road to the desert. On this second Sunday of Advent, the figure of John the Baptist points us to this road less traveled. In the Scriptures, the desert has always been a road of purification, of purgation, of being stripped down to the bare essentials. Israel was purified for 40 years in the desert before reaching the Promised Land. Jeremiah encountered God in a trying time in the desert. Jesus spent 40 days preparing for His active ministry in the desert as well.

         When we tread the road to the malls, the only god we will most likely encounter there is the god of commercialism, the god of want and invented needs. John the Baptist today proposes an alternative route — the road to the desert. An encounter with the true God is only possible when we are purified, purgated and stripped down to the bare essentials because God is not a God of superficiality, shallowness and excess. He is the God of meaning, depth and simplicity.

         Friends, let us fill up the oft-deserted road to the desert. Go to the desert this Advent season. Find your desert time. Visit the sacrament of reconciliation. Sign up for your parish Advent recollection. Volunteer yourself and your family members in some parish outreach or apostolate. Try your best to attend the nine-day Simbang Gabi. Read the Scriptures. Set aside some sacred silent time for your soul.
   Do not treat these days simply as preparation for the holidays. Make these days truly holy days of anticipation and welcome. Fr. Joel Jason

REFLECTION QUESTION: Make your Christmas more meaningful this year. What concrete actions can you do to fill your desert time?
Help me to focus on You this Christmas, dear Jesus.

St. Ambrose, bishop and doctor of the Church, pray for us.

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