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(Part 104)


December 7, 2014

Today’s readings:
Isaiah 40:1-11
Psalm 85:9-14
2 Peter 3:8-14
Mark 1:1-8

In today’s readings we have many of the aspects that make for urgency in the work of the New Evangelization.

First, we know that Jesus will return. He, the Prince of Peace, will finally bring true peace to God’s people who await him. “Surely he will speak of peace to his people and to his faithful.” (Ps 85:9b). The return of the Lord will be a glorious day. “Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Is 40:5a). So we look forward to his return expectantly and joyfully. That day will be when we experience the fullness of salvation. “Near indeed is his salvation for those who fear him; glory will dwell in our land.” (Ps 85:10).

Second, Jesus tells us that he will return on an unexpected day. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief” (2 Pt 3:10a). Every day is important. What we do can spell the different between hell and heaven for a soul. We actually are already in the end times, though it could take another millennium before Jesus returns. “But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day.” (2 Pt 3:8).

Third, this delay in his return is a manifestation of God’s love. It is an opportunity for many more to be brought back to God. God “is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Pt 3:9b). God is patient and wants many to be ready when he returns. 99 of his 100 sheep are lost. Jesus wants them back, so that “in his arms he gathers the lambs” (Is 40:11b). We work such that more people would accept the good news of salvation in Jesus, that they might be brought back from darkness and their wrong choices in life. “May they not turn to foolishness!” (Ps 85:9c).

Thus we must prepare for Jesus’ return. We, like John the Baptist, “prepare the way of the Lord” (Mk 1:3b), he for the first time, we for the second coming. “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!” (Is 40:3). How? First, we prepare ourselves, and second, we help prepare others.

For ourselves, the question is: “what sort of persons ought you to be” (2 Pt 3:11b), and the answer is: “conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion” (2 Pt 3:11c). We repent of sin and live in righteousness. “Therefore, beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace.” (2 Pt 3:14). We live pure. We live Christ.

For others, how are we going to help prepare the way for the Lord? “A voice says, ‘Proclaim!’” (Is 40:6a). We are to proclaim the gospel! We are to share the good news of salvation in Jesus to the ends of the earth. “Go up onto a high mountain, Zion, herald of good news! Cry out at the top of your voice, Jerusalem, herald of good news!” (Is 40:9a). We are to do so boldly, fearlessly, with zeal and commitment and endurance. “Cry out, do not fear! Say to the cities of Judah: Here is your God!” (Is 409b). We share Christ.

We have been commissioned by Jesus to proclaim the gospel, especially in this darkened world, so as to prepare the world for his return. We proclaim “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mk 1:4). We pray for them to receive a renewed in-filling of the Holy Spirit. We pray with people so that Jesus can “baptize you with the holy Spirit.” (Mk 1:8b). The Holy Spirit is empowerment to respond to the call to holiness and to witness. “Here comes with power the Lord God” (Is 40:10a). The Holy Spirit empowers us to live Christ and to share Christ.

So “we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Pt 3:13). When Jesus returns, we hope that we will truly be the sheep of his flock, who will now enter into our eternal reward. “Here is his reward with him, his recompense before him. .... carrying them in his bosom, leading the ewes with care.” (Is 40:10b,11c).

Should we not then eagerly desire Jesus’ return? Now here is the interesting thing: we actually have the opportunity of “hastening the coming of the day of God.” (2 Pt 3:12)! How? As we live holy lives. As we are devoted to Jesus. As the bride is prepared for the coming of the Bridegroom.

So let us waste no time. Let us live for God, in holiness and active engagement in the New Evangelization.

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