In the readings for this Sunday, Dec. 10, we’re given a sense of God’s “already” and “not yet” — Jesus’ fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation, and our reality of sin still present in the world.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
The readings for this Sunday, Dec. 10, keep us focused on the second coming, as the first two weeks of Advent do. We hear God’s original promise to come to earth to save God’s people, and we hear God’s continued promise to come and finish what he started in Jesus’ establishing the reign of God on earth. Our funky, three week Advent is a keeper of time as we draw closer to Christmas, and a reminder that we work within God’s timing, not our own. Peter reinforces this in the second reading, where he speaks of a day being like a thousand years to God and vice versa. The Gospel recalls our baptism as a sign of our identity as children of God, inheritors of God’s promise of salvation, and our need to pay attention to the prophetic voice of the John the Baptists in our lives.
Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
Here comes with power the Lord GOD, who rules by his strong arm; here is his reward with him, his recompense before him.
Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
2 Peter 3:8-14
The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you …
“I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:
During Advent, we celebrate the “already” and the “not yet.” The “already” is that Jesus already has come to earth in the incarnation in order to remove all boundaries that would stand between God and us — namely, sin. The “not yet” is that he’s coming back, and when he does, all temporary things will be wiped away. The first reading from Isaiah speaks to people in exile — people who, when their land had been occupied by a superpower, were dispersed and struggling for a sense of identity. God promises them that he’s coming for them, will gather them back up, give them a permanent home, help them rediscover who they are (his children), and hold them in his arms— our strong shepherd-king.
The second reading speaks more to the second coming of Christ. Jesus said he’d be back, and his followers thought he meant any minute, but here we are 2,000 years later waiting. Peter reminds us that what seems like a thousand years to us is only one day to God, and time isn’t relevant. He points out that it’s a mercy that God’s taking his time, because it’s giving the world a chance to straighten up and fly right. That chance, however, rests on us. It’s our responsibility to bring Christ to the world so that they can know him. We should look forward to Jesus’ coming, knowing that we’ve been working toward it with our charity and witness.
The Gospel booms with the prophetic voice of John the Baptist. He’s a portion of the fulfillment of the first reading — the one who cries out in the desert, preparing the way for Jesus. How does he prepare the way? He tells us that we need to acknowledge our sin, and let it be rooted out. He tells us to get rid of the obstacles that would prevent us from seeing Jesus for who he is and responding to his invitation to love. Jesus broke down barriers by becoming one of us, we need to break barriers by becoming more like him.
God says that he will bring comfort to his people. What’s the most comforting thing you know about Jesus?
How ready are you for the second coming? Do you actually welcome it like we pray in the Creed, or does the thought make you fearful? What does Peter’s phrase, “But according to his promise we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” mean to you?
What obstacles does Jesus try and remove from your life to help you come closer to him; what valleys has God filled in, what highways has God made straight? What boundaries do you need to work on removing; what sin, what hesitation, what broken relationships?
Bonus Question for all three groups:
Who are today’s people in exile? What can you do this Advent to help them feel connected to God’s flock?
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”