On the second Sunday of Advent, Kevin Rennie from the Diocese of Galloway reflects on today’s readings.

Throughout the Advent period we are preparing a way for the Lord. In this Sunday’s readings, we hear a lot about preparation – in Isaiah we hear the prophecy of the coming of the Lord, and how the people need to be ready “Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low”. In our preparation, we need to remove the obstacles which prevent us from clearing a way for the Lord, so that when he comes, we may be ready to welcome him with clean hands and pure hearts.

In the Second Letter of St. Peter we continue with the idea of preparation, but rather than just considering what we need to do, he addresses the question of the people as to when Christ will come. We are often reminded in our readings of the importance of staying awake – and often we wonder when Christ will come again, but in Peter we’re reminded “The Lord is not being slow … but he is being patient … wanting nobody to be lost”.

Finally, in the Gospel, we hear of the last Prophet to come before Christ, that is Saint John the Baptist who through his ministry at the Jordan “proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” During the time of John, he continuously reminded his followers that “Someone is following me … he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit”.

The image of baptism and renewal is one which we are very familiar with in the Church today, particularly after the Year of Mercy, which concluded last year. For many, preparing for Christmas will focus on the material aspect, the gifts, the turkey, the Christmas Cards – and whilst these things are important in their own ways, what is more important still are the immaterial things – family, Faith, and most importantly, Christ – for during Advent, we are preparing to join in the celebration of Christ’s coming, before celebrating his coming at Christmas.

To prepare to join in the celebration of Christ’s coming what is most important isn’t to be found in materials, but in ourselves, in our exercise and practice of virtue to prepare ourselves, body and soul for the coming of Christ – whether this is to feed the poor, or to clothe the naked, or to visit the sick, or any of the corporeal works of mercy – to show mercy towards others. Or to make more time of the Lord in our lives – to clear a way for the Lord – by going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, by spending more time in prayer on our own and with our families.

The number of ways in which you can prepare for the coming of the Lord are numerous, but when he comes, will he find you watching and waiting, ready to greet him?