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Sunday Scripture Study

Second Sunday of Advent - Cycle B

December 4, 2011

Click here for USCCB readings

Opening Prayer  

First Reading: Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11

Psalm: 85:9-14

Second Reading: 2 Peter 3:8-14

Gospel Reading: Mark 1:1-8

  • This Sunday’s reading is from the opening of St. Mark’s Gospel. The shortest of the four Gospels, Mark is marked by a sense of immediacy, which goes well with the themes of vigilance and preparation, which characterize the season of Advent. Mark does not relate any genealogies or infancy narratives, but as his gospel opens we are immediately shown the events leading up to the beginning of Jesus’ preaching ministry (Mark 1:14).
  • We are also introduced to John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin and precursor, who is preaching “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,” that is, people were seeking forgiveness of their sins by their repentance. John’s baptism did not have the sacramental power to wash away sins like Christian baptism does as it lacked the power of the Holy Spirit conferred by Jesus after his Resurrection (verse 8; John 3:5, 20:22-23).
  • John the Baptist was identified as a kind of Elijah the prophet from the Old Testament (2 Kings 1:8), returned to usher in the Messianic age (verses 2-3; Malachi 3:23-24; Mark 9:11-13; Matthew 17:10-12; Luke 1:17). He will also figure prominently in next week’s Gospel reading and several of the daily Mass readings throughout Advent.

 

QUESTIONS:

  • In the 1st Reading, what is coming to an end for God’s people? How are they to prepare for what’s coming? What will it look like when it finally arrives?
  • In the 2nd Reading, what attitude does St. Peter advise us to have while awaiting the return of Jesus? With what does he say we should occupy ourselves during this time?
  • What does Mark (and the Church) mean by “the gospel [good news] of Jesus Christ” (verse 1)? How would you explain the basic message to someone who asked?
  • What do the contexts of the quotes in verses 2-3 (Malachi 3:1; Isaiah 40:3; Exodus 23:20) teach about the “coming one”?
  • Why is John the Baptist’s message so popular with the crowds (verses 4-5)? What does the Church teach about John (CCC 717-720)?
  • Given John’s message (verses 7-8) what type of person are the crowds anticipating (see Isaiah 32:15-20)?
  • What from your life illustrates what it means to “repent”? What can you do (or not do) to prepare for the Lord’s coming and to make this a more fruitful Advent?
  • John the Baptist prepared “the way of the Lord” (Matthew 3:3; Isaiah 40:3). Who prepared the way of the Lord in your life?
Catechism of the Catholic Church: §§ 151, 422, 523, 575, 696, 717-720, 2447

 

Neither repentance avails without grace, nor grace without repentance; for repentance must first condemn sin, that grace may blot it out. So then John, who was a type of the law, came baptizing for repentance, while Christ came to offer grace.

–St. Ambrose of Milan (ca. AD 380)


41 posted on 12/04/2011 5:31:42 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
Have an Advent that Changes Your Life
Pastor’s Column
2nd Sunday of Advent
December 4, 2011
 
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens
will pass away with a mighty roar, and the elements will be dissolved by fire,
and the earth and everything done on it will be found out.    2 Peter 3
 
          It used to be said that Thanksgiving was the one national holiday that absolutely could not be commercialized (except for buying food), but that was until the “Black Friday” shopping phenomenon came along. It probably won’t be long until the stores will be open all day Thanksgiving for those who just can’t wait for Christmas (or can’t wait to get away from their relatives!).
 
          If only people could get as excited about their faith as they apparently do about shopping. When archaeologists search through the ruins of our civilization 2000 years from now, we might well be thought of as the “shopping mall people” because it will appear that this was where we spent most of our time. The problem is that what Christ has to offer doesn’t seem as attractive as a new iPad to many people, or they think they have time to pursue their faith later.  Yet, Christ may very well come sooner. Are you ready?
 
          As another Christmas approaches, the world seems to be more troubled than ever, but peace can still reign within us. The world may indeed end in 2012 as some doomsday people insist, but we are a people who know the future, and it belongs to the Lord. What will that future be like? It will be a world in which everything done on the earth will be found out. Advent, then, is a time to pursue the Lord once again.
 
          Peace and happiness simply cannot be found in a store. What our culture offers us are temporary pleasures, but it isn’t long before we are off looking for that next bargain or gadget or “must have” item. But what is Advent really all about? As I approach the end of another year, where is my life headed? What kind of person am I becoming? Is there enough room in my life for Christ, or do worries and cares take up all the space there? Our consumer culture can be lethal to our faith if we overemphasize it. What to do?
 
          Advent is a time to make up our minds to pursue holiness in our lives once again. What project will you and the Lord be doing together to prepare for Christmas? Saint Faustina speaks to us from her diary: Oh my Jesus, how very easy it is to become holy; all that is needed is a bit of good will. If Jesus sees this little bit of good will in the soul--and nothing can stop him—neither shortcomings nor falls—absolutely nothing. Jesus is anxious to help that soul, and if it is faithful to that grace from God, it can very soon attain the highest holiness possible for a creature here on earth…. Faithfulness to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit: that is the shortest route. (Diary #291). If only we give Jesus our hearts this Advent instead of simply running around, what wonders he would do for us!
                                                                                                Father Gary

42 posted on 12/04/2011 5:42:45 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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