Gospel Reflection for the 2nd Sunday of Advent
I lit a fire in the fireplace, opened my Every Sacred Sunday Mass Journal, gathered my Advent candles, and turned on a virtual Mass on the TV for the second week in a row. Though it is comfortable to worship on the couch beside my cat and bask in the glow of my Christmas lights, virtual Mass is not the same as in-person. The word “same” means identical or exactly similar. Virtual and in-person Masses are not the same and that’s a good thing. Our hearts long for communion so God calls us to gather in Holy Communion with the mystical body of Christ each week. A video chat is not the same as interacting with a loved one face-to-face. There is something greater and our hearts know that deep down.
The line I underlined as I listened to the Gospel today was “one mightier than I is coming.” Usually, other parts of this familiar reading captivate me, but this year it was these six words that consoled me. We know this Advent is not the same as in past years. On New Years’ Day 2020, I would have never predicted to spend Lent, Easter, and Advent in quarantine. In this global pandemic, we have been challenged to rethink our idea of normalcy. It is curious what those listening to St. John the Baptist understood “normal” to mean and how his prophetical words challenged that. God didn’t destine us for normalcy, but for greatness.
This Advent is not the same and Christmas will not be the same either. And that’s okay because God is at work making all things new. When I talk to people about their life story, there may be an expressed fondness looking back on past seasons but not necessarily a desire to repeat it. Why fall backward into what we already know instead of stepping forward into the great unknown? Thanks to the Frozen 2 soundtrack for providing one of the greatest theme songs of 2020: “Into the Unknown.”
When the words of John the Baptist were first said, the hearers could not even imagine what was to come. Each Advent, we celebrate a sort of “already but not yet” as we know the story of the 1st Christmas. What we don’t know is how God will continue to co-author our stories in the days ahead.
These words are like a balm for me in our current circumstances because I remember that I don’t have to understand everything; I’m not God.
I loved reading Bishop Barron’s reflection on this chapter. He pointed out that proclaiming “good news” historically meant that a battle had been won. St. Mark is writing this Gospel from Rome, the place where his friends Peter and Paul were executed a couple of years before. Bishop Barron emphasized that Mark was thus writing from the “belly of the beast.” What a depth of meaning to this particular Gospel in this particular time.
We indeed find ourselves in the “belly of the beast” in this year of 2020. There has been so much confusion, fear, heartache, loss, illness, chaos, isolation, and division. No matter what comes our way, we can declare the words of St. John the Baptist: “One mightier than I is coming!”
“There is no neutral ground in the universe: every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.” – from “Christianity and Culture” Christian Reflections by CS Lewis
As I pray for the light of truth to shine through the darkness in the world, I'm encouraged to remember that Satan wants to be where God is at work. When we feel surrounded by evil, we can expect a miracle. According to Philippians 2:10, "At the name of Jesus, every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth." Let us use that power by proclaiming the Holy Name of JESUS. Especially when we find ourselves in the belly of the beast. After all, we know Jesus is the Victor!
The Good News is not just a headline, but rather a person. Jesus is the Good News! He is Emmanuel meaning God-with-us. He is always on the throne. He is never caught off guard.
He never gives up on us.
His Thoughts are mightier than our thoughts.
His Ways are mightier than our ways.
His Understanding is mightier than our understanding.
His Power is mightier than our power.
His Kingdom is mightier than our kingdom.
His Love is mightier than our love.
His Truth is mightier than our truth.
His Word is mightier than our word.
His Faithfulness is mightier than our faithfulness.
His Mercy is mightier than our mercy.
Let me tell you how cathartic it was to type those out.
The list can go on and on and on… His loving presence is everlasting as He holds both the whole world and your unique, tender heart in His hands.
Let us sing with whole heart and voice, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel!”
I am incredibly weak, so thank you God for being mightier than I.