Notice During the Covid-19 Outbreak
In solidarity, we at the Interfaith Peace Project stand together in these times of heart break and upset. Some of you may have lost friends or family members. Some of you may have lost your job and your income; some may be working overtime to help with the crisis. Some of you may be home and alone and some may be trying to figure out a new way to live. Please let us know how we can help. If you would like a phone appointment with any of us, give us a call.You may call or email Tom at:
Tom Bonacci
[email protected]
925-787- 9279
December 6, 2020
© t0m15
Second Sunday of Advent
A Reflection from the Christian Traditions
Isaiah 40:1-11
Mark 1:1-8
by Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P.
The readings for the Second Sunday of Advent move in two directions.  The First Reading from Isaiah 40: 1-11 offers us a word of comfort. The Prophet Isaiah announced a new day of liberation to a community that had suffered the indignity of exile and the heart-break of hopelessness. In the midst of our own pandemic, we can identify with these ancient people who longed to hear a word of comfort. It is striking how suddenly a word of hope can emerge in the midst of alienation and uncertainty. Human persons are fashioned in such a way as to live on the verge of hope no matter the circumstances. Think of all the people we admire. They had the courage to offer comfort in troubled times no matter how troubled they themselves were.  
The Gospel moves in another direction (Mark 1: 1-8). This is one of those few Gospel readings where Jesus himself does not appear. John the Baptizer appears in the wilderness of Judea with a stirring message of repentance.  Isaiah announced “comfort” in the wilderness of exile. John disturbs our need for comfort by challenging us to prepare for the coming of the “one who is greater than he.”  
The very word “Advent” means coming, or, at least, the expectation that someone mighty and powerful is coming to rescue us in our moment of need. We live in the expectation that soon someone will do something to make life better. People of hope have great expectations. We hope a cure for the pandemic is fast upon us. We hope the ills of society will be transformed by justice and people. We hope the best for our family and friends. We even hope the day will soon come when no one will find it necessary to be an enemy of anyone else. Hope springs eternal as Isaiah and John bring their message of hope and comfort to the wilderness of our lives. Dare we believe that soon someone will come to make things better for others and ourselves? Let’s think about this for a moment. Who could that someone be?  
The obvious answer for many is no less than Jesus himself. But consider the story of his Birth as reflected in the New Testament. It is others who come and minister to Jesus. He is born of Mary, protected by Joseph, praised by shepherds, and gifted by Magi. He is certainly not the “Mighty One” John the Baptizer announced. Jesus is a hapless baby in need of love and care. His Birth, his coming into the World, inspired others to work on his behalf. 
Jesus frequently identified with the lowly, poor, and outcast. They came into his life stirring his soul to respond on their behalf with food, forgiveness, healing, and comfort.  Jesus saw in the afflicted what we see in Jesus – someone to love.  
Gandhi said, “You must become what you want the World to be!” We are never so “mighty” as when we humbly serve and care for one another. The Baptizer will be stunned that the “Mighty One” will be more humble than powerful, more open than restrictive, more forgiving than judgmental. Jesus will arrive at the Jordan River, according to Mark, to be baptized taking his place with the sinners! The humility of Jesus empowered John. The example of Jesus empowers us to be humble as we care and serve one another. The expected “Mighty One” turned out to be the “humble one” who seeks to love even those who would hurt him.  
Now we know the one who is “coming” into the World to make it a better place for everyone – you! Jesus is born in you over and over again. Blessings to you for birthing him in every thought, word, and deed.