Reflection for the Second Sunday in Advent 2021


Reflection for the Second Sunday of Advent


We are already beginning the second week of Advent! This beautiful Advent season seems to rush upon us right after Thanksgiving, and we hardly have time to allow our quiet to overtake our hurry as we prepare for the Feast of Christmas. Yet, that’s just want we want: to move beyond the busy-ness of November into a contemplative December spirit that brings us closer to Mary as we ponder the mystery of the Incarnation in her life and ours. Alas, it’s a hard process, this overlay of celebration and prayer, but perhaps there is a way to meld the two into a season that tugs us gently into the heart of our spiritual history.


Then today we meet someone who seems to be the antithesis of Mary. This John the Baptist, (whom Jesus in the womb of Mary greeted in the womb of Elizabeth some thirty years before today’s Gospel), appears in camel skin and a carry bag of grasshopper snacks, crying out in the desert Make a place for the coming Lord! I can’t imagine Mary crying out anywhere, about anything. Her prayerful, gentle way brought Jesus to a waiting world, but now John raises his voice in hope that the whole world can finally recognize the Lamb of God who is his cousin, Jesus. We know how this story unfolded, with both excitement and anger, belief and incredulity, love and fear toward the Messiah. But that’s for later. Today, we stop to listen to the cry of John who is echoing the prophet Isaiah:


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 roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God
(Luke 3:1-6).


John had prepared all his life for the momentous day when Jesus would ‘appear’ to the people of Palestine and change their lives forever. John tells them, and us, that every irregularity, even those masked as something familiar (mountains and winding roads), would be remade according to God’s plan so that people would never again encounter any immovable stumbling blocks in their journey through life. Jesus would come to straighten out the effects of sin, to enable us to turn away from sin, to move through life with peace knowing that we have a Savior who supports us in all things. But we must open our hearts to Him before He can do that for us.


How do we prepare His way and open our hearts to Him? It will be different for each of us. Depending on our state of life (our vocation, our career, our profession), we will invite Him in ways that are more meaningful to us and to Him. We may, during this season, discern through moments of prayer and introspection patterns that keep Him at a distance, or even close Him off from our daily life. This same prayer and introspection will, by the power of the Holy Spirit, show us how to allow Him to call us once again to friendship with Him, and to holiness. In prayer from our heart to the Heart of God there can be a reconciliation that draws us to the place where we have longed to be, or to renew our devotion that might have cooled. This can occur through personal decisions about behaviors, or, more effectively, through the Sacrament of Reconciliation itself. There is nothing we might do that would prevent Jesus from drawing us back to Himself the moment we decide to prepare the way of the Lord within our souls.


Here’s something that might not seem germane to this reflection, but it is: when I was growing up, whenever my mother or one of my older brothers left home with another family member in the car, even for just a trip to the grocery store, my father would say to whoever was behind the wheel, Drive carefully. You carry a precious load. I can’t help thinking that perhaps Mary might whisper to any one of us who might be listening, Live carefully. You carry a Precious Load. Yes, we bear the Person of God within us, the Holy Trinity. So we take time this Advent to consider how carefully we live, that this Life in us will not be compromised or neglected or in any way wounded by our thoughts, words or actions.


It’s not Christmas yet, but we are already tabernacles of God (1 Corinthians 6:19. 6:19).


So let us live carefully this Advent. We carry a precious load.



“With Mary, our lives continually proclaim the greatness of the Lord and the joy experienced in rendering service to Him.”

Holy Rule

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