Advent: Preparing to Welcome the Prince of Peace

User’s Guide to Sunday, Dec. 6, the Second Sunday of Advent

Advent prepares our hearts to embrace the Christ Child.
Advent prepares our hearts to embrace the Christ Child. (photo: Shutterstock)

Sunday, Dec. 6, is the Second Sunday of Advent (Year B). Mass Readings: Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11; Psalm 85:9-14; 2 Peter 3:8-14; Mark 1:1-8.

This Second Sunday of Advent, we continue with the theme of preparing for the coming of the Lord. The first reading from Isaiah is directed at the people of Israel who have been less than faithful to the Lord. Nevertheless, “glad tidings” will come. “Here is your God! Here comes with power the Lord God, who rules by his strong arm,” says the prophet. And this strong God of ours will come not to destroy but to gather his lambs, “carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care.” We seek, then, the coming of a gentle Shepherd who will bring peace.

The Psalmist then tells us that the Lord “proclaims peace to his people.” In the future, “kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss.” In the Psalm, kindness, peace and salvation are all wrapped up into one reality. For the people of Israel, the greeting “shalom” is not just saying “hello.” Rather, one is wishing that blessing, kindness, salvation, wholeness, prosperity and peace be upon the person greeted. The notion is that peace is salvation and vice versa. 

St. Peter in the second reading confirms this, for we who follow the Lord and count on his promise “await a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” Therefore, we should live in holiness now and be “at peace,” he says. What does this look like?

In the Gospel reading from St. Mark, Isaiah’s words from the first reading are repeated, and it is John the Baptist who is preparing the way for Jesus’ coming. He preaches “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” This is one form of peace, and the people in the surrounding areas of Jerusalem and the Jordan River knew it. They understood that by making amends with our neighbor and God, peace can be achieved — often the fruit of first recognizing where we fail. Peace can be a kind of relational starting over again, a wiping of the slate.

For this reason, in this penitential time of Advent, it is so important that we take the time to examine ourselves. What might we repent of and take to the sacrament of reconciliation? In it we hope to experience the peace that comes with being in right relationship with the Almighty and our neighbor. 

However, peace can also be the interior experience of knowing we are loveable, the experience of being the lamb and ewe embraced by the tender shepherd from the first reading. We need not accomplish anything or prove our love of the Lord. Peace can come from simply accepting his love for us directly and/or as it is manifest in our families, friendships and our Church. 

Once accepted, how we might respond to this intimate love from the Father? It may be an extra devotional or reading of spiritual significance during Advent. It may be one or more of the corporal works of mercy. However we respond, we are invited into a lasting peace that is an interior wholeness. It is a peace that allows us to better serve our neighbor during this time of year and to welcome the coming mysteries of the Christ Child, who is the Prince of Peace.