During these first couple weeks of Advent, by our joyful expectation of Christ’s coming in the flesh at Christmas, the Church turns our minds and hearts especially toward His second coming in glory. As we closed the liturgical year with the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, the readings carried with them something of a foreboding tone, highlighting the power and universal dominion of Jesus throughout time and space. But with these first few weeks of Advent, the Church is singing a different song. Now, She awaits the Bridegroom’s return with true joy.
The presence of joy in the texts of this Sunday’s liturgy is ubiquitous. The entrance antiphon announces that “The Lord will make the glory of his voice heard in the joy of your heart.” The communion antiphon declares, “Jerusalem, arise and stand upon the heights, and behold the joy which comes to you from God.” As we await the return of the Bridegroom, perhaps the change of tone is meant to remind us that what we await is a wedding feast – blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb. The Second Coming also implies for us the ultimate consummation of the marriage between Christ and His Church. Our first reading from Baruch foreshadows it in the unwavering fidelity of God to His covenant with Israel. “Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever.” It is a tender image; Jerusalem takes off its robe of sorrow so that it can be clothed in a garment of joy, a garment that will be a constant reminder of her predilection. The Church sees Her own destiny in Jerusalem. She is the New Jerusalem who awaits this same garment, when her veil of tears will be removed and She will be robed in the wedding gown of glory, as She sings with the psalmist, “The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.”
The Gospel this week quotes Isaiah: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” Might it be that the path that we, the Church, the Bride of Christ, prepare this Advent is the path to the wedding feast of the Lamb? The preparations must be undertaken with care: “The winding roads shall be made straight and the rough ways made smooth.” But this season, we prepare our hearts to be clothed in glorious splendor. The Bridegroom walks this journey with us; “God is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory.” As we march forward to Christmas this Advent, perhaps we might join our voices to the opening prayer of the Mass: “May no earthly undertaking hinder those who set out in haste to meet your Son.” May this Second Sunday of Advent allow you to see the source of your joyful hope during this Holy Season. Come Lord Jesus.
Fr. Bobby Krueger is a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago. He is currently completing an STL in Systematic Theology at Mundelein Seminary and serves at St. Bede the Venerable parish in Chicago. He has attended TOB I (March 2009) and TOB II (August 2012).