Sign reading "Good news is coming"

December 6, 2020 | Sr. Cora Marie Billings, RSM | Today's Readings

"But according to his promise
we await new heavens and a new earth
in which righteousness dwells." -2 Peter 3:13

We often hear that “actions speak louder than words.” Certainly, that must be especially true when it comes to the Scriptures.

Somehow, we must exemplify and model the Scriptures — especially the readings we hear this Second Sunday of Advent. Indeed, we must model these passages from beginning to end, for we may be the only Bible that some people ever see.

The first word in today’s reading from Isaiah is “comfort.” In order for me to comfort someone, I must be in relationship with them; I need to acknowledge and believe that they are part of the Body of Christ. I have to intentionally celebrate the God within them, even though they might not look or act as I do. 

Within this comfort, there must also be compassion. A person in need is often “in the desert” (Isaiah 40:3) of their life — in this day and age, that might mean anxiety because of the economy, the pandemic, or broken social systems. Regardless of how this desert manifests, we are told to “speak tenderly” to those who need our comfort (Isaiah 40:2).

In the letter to Peter in today’s second reading, we are encouraged to put things into perspective. There are times in my life when I can’t seem to focus on the roots or foundation of things. But the reality is that God promises us a “new heaven and a new earth” (2 Peter 3:13). 

If I really believe that God is my friend, then when the hard times come, I’ll express my displeasure and talk things over with God, my friend. I might not like what I hear or the final outcome, but my faith helps me to hold on.

Finally, the Gospel of Mark comes to the real challenge: we are to be the “heralds of good news.” Like John the Baptist, I must be a messenger for Christ. My integrity is at play. Therefore, I must be a person of great faith, have an active prayer life, and be willing to die to myself. I must proclaim the message of Jesus — one of justice and peace. 

In preparation for proclaiming the message, I must get rid of the barriers that will cloud it. I must pray for the courage to take risks and be willing to speak out and tell the “true truth.” I must acknowledge the roots, the walls, and the barriers that impede justice in our systems — and then, I must work to eradicate them.

We have this holy season of Advent to prepare for the birth of Jesus. During this time, we look beyond our own troubles and reach out to our sisters and brothers and help them seek “a new heaven and a new earth.” We prepare to “Go Tell It on the Mountain!”