Mass ReadingsLiturgical Readings for : Sunday, 10th December, 2023
Second Sunday of Advent, Year B
St John the Baptist calls to us to straighten out our lives, to lower the mountains of pride so that God’s grace can lead us to do what he wants with us. There is no place for our selfishness and pride in St Peter’s new heaven and new earth.
( An Advent Reflection by John Cullen can be found below the Readings for today .)
A reading from the prophet Isaiah 40:1-5. 9-11
Prepare a way for the Lord.
‘Console my people, console them’ says your God.
‘Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and call to her that her time of service is ended, that her sin is atoned for,
that she has received from the hand of the Lord double punishment for all her crimes.’
A voice cries,
‘Prepare in the wilderness a way for the Lord.
Make a straight highway for our God across the desert.
Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low,
let every cliff become a plain, and the ridges a valley;
then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all mankind shall see it;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’
Go up on a high mountain, joyful messenger to Zion.
Shout with a loud voice, joyful messenger to Jerusalem.
Shout without fear, say to the towns of Judah,
‘Here is your God’. Here is the Lord the Lord coming with power,
his arm subduing all things to him.
The prize of his victory is with him, his trophies all go before him.
He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms,
holding them against his breast and leading to their rest the mother ewe.
The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 84
Response Let us see, O Lord, your mercy and give us your saving help.
1. I will hear what the Lord God has to say, a voice that speaks of peace, peace for his people.
His help is near for those who fear him and his glory will dwell in our land. Response
2. Mercy and faithfulness have met; justice and peace have embraced.
Faithfulness shall spring from the earth and justice look down from heaven. Response
3. The Lord will make us prosper and our earth shall yield its fruit.
Justice shall march before him and peace shall follow his steps. Response
A reading from the second letter of St Peter 3:8-14
We are waiting for the new heavens and new earth.
There is one thing, my friends, that you must never forget: that with the Lord,
‘a day‘ can mean a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day.
The Lord is not being slow to carry out his promises, as anybody else might be called slow; but he is being patient with you all, wanting nobody to be lost and everybody to be brought to change his ways. The Day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then with a roar the sky will vanish, the elements will catch fire and fall apart, the earth and all that it contains will be burnt up.
Since everything is coming to an end like this, you should be living holy and saintly lives while you wait and long for the Day of God to come, when the sky will dissolve in flames and the elements melt in the heat. What we are waiting for is what he promised: the new heavens and new earth, the place where righteousness will be at home. So then, my friends, while you are waiting, do your best to live lives without spot or stain so that he will find you at peace.
The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Gospel Acclamation Lk 3:4.6
Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight..
and all mankind shall see the salvation of God.
The Lord be with you And with your spirit.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark 1:1-8
Make his paths straight.
The beginning of the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
It is written in the book of the prophet Isaiah:
Look, I am going to send my messenger before you; he will prepare your way.
A voice cries in the wilderness: Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight,
and so it was that John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
All Judaea and all the people of Jerusalem made their way to him, and as they were baptised by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins. John wore a garment of camel-skin, and he lived on locusts and wild honey. In the course of his preaching he said, ‘
Someone is following me, someone who is more powerful than I am,
and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals.
I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.‘
The Gospel of the Lord. Glory to you, O Lord
John Cullen’s Second Sunday of Advent Reflection
‘Here is your God like a shepherd feeding his flock’ (Isaiah 40:11)
The 1971 musical, Godspell opens with God’s voice, as spoken by Jesus, declaring
‘My name is known, it is God and King. I am most in majesty, in whom no beginning may be and no end’.
In response, John the Baptist then calls the community to order by blowing a shofar, (a type of bugle,) to acknowledge the Jewish tradition of calling people together.
The cast in the musical then sing ‘Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord’. John the Baptist gives a short sermon. Jesus asks to be baptised, explaining that ‘we too will now conform to all that God requires’. The cast sings ‘Turn Back O Man’, imploring us to change and turn back to God. This opening part of the musical reflects our readings in the Mass for today.
The 1930s and 1940’s world of Frank Mc Court’s Angela’s Ashes is in a sense an Advent wilderness for one family. The personal memoir was written in 1996. In the environment of grinding poverty and squalor in a tenement slum in Limerick, Ireland, Angela struggles to hold her family together as financial struggles and chronic alcoholism take their grim toll on many lives.
There is no help from her extended bigoted family. The face of the Church is brutal, apart from the common-sense and sympathetic humanity of a priest who listens to the faltering words of Frank. (This is well portrayed in the 1999 film version of the book). The scene of Frank praying as he kneels before the statue of Saint Francis of Assisi gives us a glimpse of hope as he faces so many anguishing experiences.
‘Console my people, console them’ are the words that ‘speak to the heart’ in today’s First Reading from Isaiah. Angela is the true image of the shepherd holding the lambs of her family close to her breast, as she quietly suffers unimaginable harshness and callous cruelty. This is the line quoted at the beginning of Mark’s Gospel today. The prophetic words of the Old Testament are the beginning of the New Testament!
Who consoles you? Who do you console?
Who shepherds you as your life ebbs and flows between desolation and consolation?
The Scripture Texts are taken from THE JERUSALEM BIBLE, published and copyright 1966, by Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd and Doubleday, a division of Random House Inc, and used by permission of the publishers. Fr John Cullen, Parish Priest of Ahascraigh, Ballinasloe, Co Galway and Editor of Intercom Magazine, is the writer of Advent Reflections published by Messenger Publications c/f www.messenger.ie/bookshop.