“The day of the Lord will come like a thief” (2 Peter 3:10)

Second Sunday of Advent

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 on to 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! Here comes with power the Lord GOD, who rules by his strong arm; here is his reward with him, his recompense before him. 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.

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. 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. Since everything is to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be, conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion, 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. But according to his promise we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace.

Mark 1:1-8

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God. As 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. People 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."

This Sunday’s Gospel reading is from the first few verses of Chapter 1 of the Gospel according to St. Mark. Verse 1 “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” is also a title for the entire gospel (Ref: Ignatius Bible Study [IBS] P65). The “good news” is that Christ has come to rescue all nations from sin, selfishness, and Satan and to reveal the inner life of God to the world (Ref: IBS). Jesus is first revealed as “The Son of God” in verse 11 when He comes from Nazareth to be baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan; as Jesus comes out of the water, “these words were heard from heaven ‘You are my Son, the Beloved, the One I have chosen’”. The Son of God is also the predominant title for Jesus in the Gospel (Ref: IBS).

After the opening verse, St. Mark uses a scene in the Old Testament to usher in the appearance of John the Baptist in the wilderness who “as it is written in the Prophet Isaiah” will “’Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”’ (Mk 1:2,3). John’s attire was distinctive of Old Testament prophets, he was “clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist” (Mk 1: 6; IBS). He proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, and baptized people who came to him from the Judean countryside and Jerusalem in the River Jordan, the main river in Palestine. The Jordan is the site where stories of deliverance happened in the Old Testament – the Israelites crossed the Jordan to inherit the Promised Land; and Naaman the Syrian (a Gentile) was cleansed of leprosy in the waters of the Jordan. John’s ministry at the Jordan prepares for the Messiah’s salvation of Israel and the Gentiles (Ref. IBS). And, it is in the river Jordan that John the Baptist proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me;” and “I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mk 1: 8).

In this Second Sunday of Advent, John the Baptist’s proclamation points to the coming of the Messiah, for whom “[He is] not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals” (Mk 1:7). For us who have been baptized sacramentally in water and in the Holy Spirit, Advent is the season for us to await the joyful commemoration of the First Coming of God’s only Begotten Son at Christmas. More importantly, it is a reminder that we are awaiting for the second coming of our Lord in glory, and we must strive for Jesus to find us worthy of eternal joy in heaven.

Very often, we hear people say that so much evil and darkness now prevail in the world, that the end is imminent. Do we have a clue when will the second coming of Christ be? In the second reading, St. Peter tells us we will not find out, there is no clue, no forewarning, “The day of the Lord will come like a thief” (2 Peter 3:10). “The Lord is not slow about his promise” of the second coming, “but [He] is patient with [us], not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). In other words, our Lord is giving us a chance to repent and live a life of righteousness before He comes again.

St. Peter leaves us with this question, “What sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness” (2 Peter 3:10) ? How must we live so that Jesus will find us worthy for eternal joy in heaven when the time comes

Posted: December 6, 2020

Shiu Lan

Shiu Lan is your Catholic neighbour with a simple faith and likes praying the Rosary. With a B.Sc from the University of Hong Kong, she worked in Information Technology and Project Management before working with joy at home.

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