Liturgy of the Sunday

Deel Op

Second Sunday of Advent
Today the Byzantine Church venerates Saint Sabbas (+532), "the archimandrite of all the hermitages of Palestine."

First Reading

Baruch 5,1-9

Jerusalem, take off your dress of sorrow and distress, put on the beauty of God's glory for evermore, wrap the cloak of God's saving justice around you, put the diadem of the Eternal One's glory on your head, for God means to show your splendour to every nation under heaven, and the name God gives you for evermore will be, 'Peace-through-Justice, and Glory-through-Devotion'. Arise, Jerusalem, stand on the heights and turn your eyes to the east: see your children reassembled from west and east at the Holy One's command, rejoicing because God has remembered. Though they left you on foot driven by enemies, now God brings them back to you, carried gloriously, like a royal throne. For God has decreed the flattening of each high mountain, of the everlasting hills, the filling of the valleys to make the ground level so that Israel can walk safely in God's glory. And the forests and every fragrant tree will provide shade for Israel, at God's command; for God will guide Israel in joy by the light of his glory, with the mercy and saving justice which come from him. A copy of the letter which Jeremiah sent to those about to be led captive to Babylon by the king of the Babylonians, to tell them what he had been commanded by God:


Psalm 125


The Lord has done great things for us.

'When the Lord delivered Zion from bondage
It seemed like a dream.

Then was our mouth filled with laughter,
on our lips there were songs.

The heathens themselves said : 'What marvels
the Lord worked for them!'

What marvels the Lord worked for us!
Indeed we were glad.

Deliver us, O Lord, from our bondage
as streams in dry land.

Those who are sowing in tears
will sing when they reap.

They go out, they go out, full of tears,
carrying seed for the sowing :

they come back, they come back, full of song,
carrying their sheaves.

Second Reading

Philippians 1,4-6.8-11

and every time I pray for you all, I always pray with joy for your partnership in the gospel from the very first day up to the present. I am quite confident that the One who began a good work in you will go on completing it until the Day of Jesus Christ comes. For God will testify for me how much I long for you all with the warm longing of Christ Jesus; it is my prayer that your love for one another may grow more and more with the knowledge and complete understanding that will help you to come to true discernment, so that you will be innocent and free of any trace of guilt when the Day of Christ comes, entirely filled with the fruits of uprightness through Jesus Christ, for the glory and praise of God.

Reading of the Gospel

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Luke 3,1-6

In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar's reign, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judaea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of the territories of Ituraea and Trachonitis, Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, and while the high-priesthood was held by Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah, in the desert. He went through the whole Jordan area proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the sayings of Isaiah the prophet: A voice of one that cries in the desert: Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight! Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be levelled, winding ways be straightened and rough roads made smooth, and all humanity will see the salvation of God.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia


It is not easy for us, men and women surrounded by much noise, a multiplicity of messages, and a confusion of news, to understand the figure of John the Baptist. He was a strong and sever man and in his essentiality helps us understand the true meaning of life. John has one defining feature: he is a man who speaks, and he speaks loudly , from the pulpit of the desert and shouts to every man and woman that the Lord is coming.
However John does not speak on his own initiative, however, but because he was touched by the "word" in history, as Luke notes: "In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius...the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness." His voice reaches all the way to our time. And the desert where he speaks is close to us: it is the desert of our cities where loneliness has corroded social bonds. John is a preacher free from the plots of the kings' palaces. He is a poor man and his clothing reveals his poverty: he only wears a camel skin and a belt around his waist. His food is poor: locusts and wild honey. But in his poverty, he is free.
John speaks forcefully and attacks the Pharisees and Sadducees, revealing how skilled they are in pretending to repent in order to remain always the same. He is not afraid of denouncing what is happening in the royal palace, even if his courage will cost him his life. John does not justify the pride of those who feel secure because they live in the places of power or for some merits, perhaps because they are "children of Abraham." Pride is far from John's heart: "I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal." (see Jn 1:27), he says in reference to Jesus. This humble man knows how to accuse pride and self-sufficiency with great firmness. Humility is not fear. It is not silence. It is not moderation. The humble person trusts in the Lord and in the Lord alone.
John knows how to listen and how to speak, and he knows how to perform acts of forgiveness for the long line of men and women who come to him to confess their sins and be baptized with the baptism of repentance. John is a prophet who cries out. He cries out because he has to make room for a new life in the chaotic desert of this world. He wants to open the way of the Lord in the desert. The evangelist Luke takes up the words of the anonymous prophet (Second Isaiah) describing Israel's return from exile in Babylon. He tells of a straight, smooth road similar to the roads that led to temples in ancient times, the so-called "processional roads" that were meant to be walked on with singing and rejoicing. There are so many rough places of pride and arrogance that need to be smoothed out. There are so many valleys of coldness and indifference that need to be filled. That is how to prepare the way for the Lord who is coming. John cries out, "repent because the Lord is near!" It is a simple but radical message. An ear accustomed to these words will be able to classify them among those already known; but whoever considers what the prophet says in this way, goes to swell the number of those Pharisees who try to escape the "judgment of God." Perhaps we too are asked to join John in the desert, to go and ask for his baptism of penance, to hope and work for a different world. Thus we will see a way opening up in the desert that is populated by the poor, the weak, and all those who are searching for a word of salvation.