OFFICE FOR LITURGY

of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford

Second Sunday of Advent (Year A)

Throughout the first three weeks of Advent our focus is very clearly on the End of Time, and the Second Coming of the Lord - not on the run up to Christmas (that only comes in the last week). If we view Advent as a Season preparing for Christmas these readings will make little sense - and neither will the figure of John the Baptist who appears today: if it was about the preparation for Christmas, then John the Baptist, preaching after Jesus was born, becomes a confusing figure: 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 an unequivocal and very graphic reference to the end of time and the Second Coming in the reading from Saint Peter; it is a frightening picture that he paints, 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. The Gospel focuses on the great Advent prophet, John the Baptist, with his message of preparation - we are invited to get ourselves ready, making a way for the Lord.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Isaiah 11:1-10

Isaiah utters this great prophecy describing the Promised Messiah: what will he do when he comes? This beautiful reading contains some of the most memorable and powerful Advent imagery; the reader should do her best to enjoy this imagery, and to allow all the ideas and pictures to engage the attention and (more importantly) the imagination of the listeners. Reading too quickly will kill this reading: you must take your time! Without reading too slowly that it becomes painful for the congregation, give them plenty of time to hear, listen and think. Especially look for the pauses between themes – there is a big change of mood when you move into the part starting “The wolf lives with the lamb…”. The beginning of the reading can be problematic: “shoot” and “scion” are unusual words to apply to a person, and despite the familiarity of this reading, it can take a while for people to “tune in” – this is one of those occasions where a brief and well thought out introduction to the First Reading can be useful (either given by the Presider, the Reader or a Commentator). Use the “sense lines” the reading is printed in to gauge your pace.

Second Reading: Romans 15:4-9

This reading is about patience and hope – “Christ is coming again, keep going!” When you begin, aim for the word “hope” on line 2. This reading is a link into the Mission of John the Baptist, who had to preach to a people who had been waiting for hundreds of years! He was telling them that Christ was coming, so that God could “fulfil his promises to the Patriarchs.” We’ve already been waiting nigh on 2,000 years for Christ’s Second Coming, so Paul’s words are suitable for us, too! As long as you have read this out loud beforehand, it should not present too many problems. You still have to insert some “mental commas” to make sure that the phrases come out correctly (so, for example, you should insert a slight pause after “…something about hope,” on line 2) Practise the intonation of “not only…” to “it was also…” in the second paragraph: these phrases must balance each other: try different readings out loud until you find one that works.

From the Catechism

The prophets and the expectation of the Messiah
CCC 522, 711-716, 722:
 
The mission of John the Baptist
CCC 523, 717-720
 
Conversion of the baptized
CCC 1427-29
 
719 "John the Baptist is "more than a prophet." In him, the Holy Spirit concludes his speaking through the prophets. John completes the cycle of prophets begun by Elijah. He proclaims the imminence of the consolation of Israel; he is the "voice" of the Consoler who is coming. As the Spirit of truth will also do, John "came to bear witness to the light." In John's sight, the Spirit thus brings to completion the careful search of the prophets and fulfills the longing of the angels. "He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God. . . . Behold, the Lamb of God."

Gospel Wordsearch

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