Second Sunday of Advent (B)

December 6, 2020

St. Anselm Church – Sudbury, MA

Readings: IS 40:1-5, 9-11; Psalm 85; 2 PT 3:8-14; MK 1:1-8


Welcome on this glorious Advent morning! The storm cleared out just in time! Even if it hadn’t we are weather-proofed now for 11am outdoor mass! A special welcome to our recently confirmed sisters and brothers. We have a special blessing and request for you. 

Remember Advent is a season of hope!  God has great hope for us – infinite hope! Can we silence our skepticism or negativity and accept God’s hope as our own?  When we do, all things become possible.  For All things are possible with God.

For our lack of hope sometimes, we commend ourselves to God’s mercy…

Penitential Rite:

Lord Jesus, you gather all the nations into the peace of God’s kingdom.

Lord have mercy…

Lord Jesus, you come to us in Word and in Sacrament to strengthen us in holiness.

Christ have mercy…

Lord Jesus, you will come again in glory, with salvation for your people.

Lord Have mercy…


Driving is not for the faint of heart!  Especially on a icy snowy night like last night!

You might say…

“Sometimes you have to ride over the bumps in the road

to avoid running off a cliff.

Other times you may have to fall into the potholes

to avoid hitting the trees.

Some days you have to experience the wrong turns,

to recognize the right ones.

There is no better navigation system

than bad experiences in life

so that we can recalculate our lives through better choices

to reach our intended destination.”

Isaiah, Peter, and John the Baptist,

though they did not know the hazards of driving,

they did know the necessity of good roads

to reach our intended destination.

All three would have known that
when kings in days of old traveled from one region to another

it was a big deal.

It was not uncommon to have slaves go ahead of the royal procession

to prepare a highway—an elevated road bed—

to make the way smoother.

It involved filling in valleys and lowering hilltops;

crossing rivers and mountains of every type.

Isaiah, Peter, and John the Baptist

all speak of preparation.

Advent is a time of preparation.

It is a sacred season to prepare

for Christ’s unexpected and unannounced return.

Ready or not, we believe he will come again!

Advent is also an adventurous time

to prepare for the celebration of his birth.

He did pitch his tent and dwelt among us – real & true, here in our midst.

Isaiah, Peter, and John the Baptist

are consistent and clear about how we are to both prepare to celebrate his birth, and prepare for his return at the end of the world.

It entails action!

Advent is a time of action.

“We must to this; we must do that”

are words that preachers are warned not to employ.

It can come across as scolding or patronizing.

But Isaiah, Peter, and John the Baptist

didn’t take those preaching classes!

They are powerfully proposing a purpose.

They see their message as very urgent!

In life, they insist:

choose the steady over zigzagging,

the flat over the fast,

the level over the liability-laden,

the passable over the pot-holed.

“Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!” – Isaiah says.

Advent calls clearly and consistently:

clean it up!

What are those valleys that bring us down?

 failure or finances,

shame about the past,

anxiety about the future,

holding on to a hazardous habits

like pride, indifference, self-will, greed, negativity?

What are the mountains

those obstacles to health and holiness?

lust, bitterness,

addiction to alcohol, drugs, TV, video games;

debt, rage, hypocrisy, authority issues,

jealousy, dysfunctional relationships, poor communication

job stress, low self-esteem, ego,

busyness—too many irons in the fire, too many plates in the air?

What are the roads that need to be made smooth?

our complacency at the evils around us;

our smugness that sets us apart from others;

our preoccupation with wants, especially during this buying season;

our lack of gratitude for God’s many acts of kindness, or the kindness of others to us;

our unwillingness to work with others to make the world better;

our holding back from someone in need?

These are not listed in the 10 Commandments.

These might not make the list of “big sins,”

but they still nag us for our attention! T

hey try to hold our attention on what is NOT of God.

And here is the good news:

you and I do not have to

revamp, remove, renovate, or repair on our own.

God is willing, wanting, and waiting to help us.

God is already well disposed towards us.

Isaiah is quite clear about what God is trying to do here.

“Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and proclaim to her

that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated.”

An image to help you know this God and what he’s doing:  Imagine sitting on a porch, having a coffee with Jesus sitting in the next chair. You chat over what in the world you’re going to do, to be. He listens, like a faithful friend for years. He says to you gently: ‘come, let’s do this together. Everything is going to be fine!”

God is ready to act on our behalf,

To heal our wounds and forgive our sins.

For “nothing is impossible with God,” says the angel Gabriel [Luke 1:37].

“With God all things are possible,” says Jesus. [Matthew 19:26].

And Paul purports:

“Now to Him

who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus

throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen!” [Ephesians 3:20-21].

And we already know this!

That’s why most of us are here.

I know people whose tongues were four lanes,

all going in the same wrong direction:

gossiping, complaining, belittling, and swearing.

But they prayed to make that highway, God’s way.

And those four lanes became:

truth-telling, accepting, approving and praising.

It does happen!  I bet you can think of someone who was also transformed like that with God’s help.

My friends,

may we take to heart

the call to action of Isaiah, Peter, and John the Baptist,

sure and certain that God

is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,

so that when he returns

and when he comes again at Christmas,

he will find us

find us ever watchful in prayer,

strong in truth, love, justice, and mercy

and ever faithful in the breaking of the bread,

widening the circle, inviting more people to God’s banquet,

and being the brothers and sisters to one another

that God has made us to be.

May it be so!