Second Sunday of Advent
1) Bar 5:1-9
2) Phil 1:4-6, 8-11
Gospel: Lk 3:1-6
If I were asked to sum up Christianity in a single word, there isn’t any question what the answer would have to be: “Jesus.”
If the question were rephrased as, What’s the whole point of Christianity? The best word, I think, to express it would be “resurrection.”
There is a difference between the two. Not only is one a person and the other a condition; the person is someone I have begun to know, while the condition is outside my experience.
In the First Letter of John, we are told that “we are God’s children now” but “what we shall be has not yet been revealed.” However, “we do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him” — that is, like Jesus — “for we shall see him as he is” (1 Jn 3:2).
What we will be in the resurrection, when God fulfills his purposes for the human race, “has not been revealed.” Indeed. I would make that statement a little stronger: I don’t have any idea.
And, it seems to me, to say that we will be like Jesus explains a mystery by a mystery, for how Jesus is now, risen in his humanity and united with the Father, is beyond the outer limits of my comprehension.
This is an important issue. Our lives are moving toward a conclusion that alone gives them purpose and light and hope. Yet the nature of that conclusion lies outside understanding.
How, then, can we want it? In the creed we say, “I look forward to the resurrection of the dead.” How can I, if I have no direct knowledge of it?
But we have help. Scripture offers images, symbols, parables of our final destiny in God. Today’s first reading provides one of the greatest. God’s fulfillment of his plans for us will be a kind of homecoming.
The biblical author speaks of God bringing exiles back to Jerusalem, their ancestral home. As they make their way through a desert, “forests and every fragrant kind of tree” will spring up as they go by, shading them from the burning sun.
Going home is something I can grasp. If the fulfillment that God has in mind for us is like returning, after a trip or after a lifetime, and arriving again at our front door — well, that is something I can look forward to.
Perrotta is the editor and an author of the “Six Weeks With the Bible” series, teaches part time at Siena Heights University and leads Holy Land pilgrimages. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.