First Reading: Bar 5:1-9
Psalm: Ps 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6
Second Reading: Phil 1:4-6, 8-11
Gospel Reading: Luke 3:1-6
The First Reading from the lectionary today is a resounding "command" from the prophet Baruch. The words are powerful and strong:
"Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever: wrapped in the cloak of justice from God, bear on your head the mitre that displays the glory of the eternal name."
Wow. Baruch continues:
"Up, Jerusalem! stand upon the heights; look to the east and see your children gathered from the east and the west at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that they are remembered by God."
In all honesty, I have been reading this scripture for years - and hear it proclaimed year after year during the Advent season (even though it does not always appear every year in the "A-B-C" cycle of the lectionary. This year, these words have given me new insight - not only into the prophet Baruch - but into my own life - and maybe even in yours as well.
Baruch, a disciple of Jeremiah, is taking a deep look at the devastated city of Jerusalem. He is declaring that it is time for her to take off her robe of mourning, misery, and depression for a brilliant new mantle - a mantle that i spun from justice and God's glory.
In the Gospel today, there is a similar invitation to a new beginning as well - announced by John the Baptist. He makes a bold declarartion too:
"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 toads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'"
During this Second Week of Advent, ponder the following questions:
Do you have any mourning and misery going on in your life? If so, how will you turn it into a new mantle of God's glory?
What areas of your life are "devastated" that need healing and new life?
What 'winding roads' in your life need to be 'made straight'?
How are you preparing for the Holy One of Israel this Advent season?
Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the paths of your Only Begotten Son, that through his coming, we may be found worthy to serve you with minds made pure.
--Collect, Thursday of the Second Week of Advent, The Roman Missal, 3rd Edition, 2010.