Throughout the first three weeks of Advent our focus is very clearly on the Second Coming of the Lord – not so much on the run up to Christmas (until the last week). If we view Advent as a preparation for Christmas these readings will make little sense – and neither will the figure of John the Baptist who appears today: if it’s about the preparation for Christmas, then John the Baptist, preaching after Jesus was born, is a confusing figure: but his role is to preach to us, as he did of old, and to prepare us for the (second) coming of the Lord. Today we have a very graphic reference to the end of time and the Second Coming in the reading from Saint Peter; it is a frightening picture, and so the first reading offers tender words of comfort to help us understand who is coming, and why we should be ready to meet him.
Readings and Psalm
1st Reading: Isaiah 40: 1-5, 9-11
2nd Reading: 2 Peter 3: 8-14
Gospel Reading: Mark 1:1-8
I will hear what the Lord has to say, a voice that speaks of peace, peace for his people. His help is near for those who fear him and his glory will dwell in our land. Mercy and faithfulness have met; justice and peace have embraced. Faithfulness shall spring from the earth and justice look down from heaven. The Lord will make us prosper and our earth shall yield its fruit. Justice shall march before him and peace shall follow his steps.