By Deacon Ken and Marie Finn
BEFORE YOU BEGIN:
Pray and ask God to speak to you through His Holy Spirit. “THE PARACLETE, THE HOLY SPIRIT WHOM THE FATHER WILL SEND IN MY NAME, WILL INSTRUCT YOU IN EVERYTHING, AND REMIND YOU OF ALL THAT I TOLD YOU.” (JOHN 14:26)
FIRST DAY Reread last week’s readings.
- What was a helpful or new thought from the readings or from the homily you heard on Sunday?
- From what you learned, what personal application did you choose to apply to your life this week?
SECOND DAY READ ISAIAH 40:1-5, 9-11 FIRST READING
(“Cry out at the top of your voice.”)
- What does the Lord say to give to his people? Isaiah 40:1
- What does God give us in our afflictions, thus enabling us to give others in their troubles? 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
- What two things are we to do to Jerusalem, and what has Jerusalem received from the hand of the Lord? Isaiah 40:2
- Who speaks for us, and what do we proclaim? Matthew 10:20 and 10:27
- What does a voice crying out in the desert say? Isaiah 40:3
- What shall happen to every valley, mountain and hill, the rugged land and the rough country? Isaiah 40:4
- Then what shall be revealed, who shall see it, and who has spoken? Isaiah 40:5
- What does the Father give the Son, and what does the Son give the Father? How did the Son give this to the Father? John 17:1 and John 17:4
- What are we to do at the top of our voice, what are we not to do, and what are we to say? Isaiah 40:9
- Who comes with power ruling by his strong arm, and what is with him and before him? Isaiah 40:10
- What does a shepherd do to his flock and lambs, where does he carry them, and what does he lead with care? Isaiah 40:11
- What is the eye in Matthew 6:22?
Personal – What have your actions been crying out about our Lord to others? How have you experienced the Lord carrying you in his bosom and leading the ewes with care?
THIRD DAY READ 2 PETER 3:8-14 SECOND READING
(“The Lord does not delay in keeping his promise.”)
- In the Lord’s eyes, what is one day? 2 Peter 3:8
- What does the Lord not delay in keeping? 2 Peter 3:9
- What promise was made to us and to our children? Acts 2:38-39
- What does the Lord show us, and what does he want? 2 Peter 3:9
- How does Jesus Christ display all his patience? 1 Timothy 1:15-16
- How will the day of the Lord come, and what will happen on that day? 2 Peter 3:10
- What will happen to everything, and what are people to do? 2 Peter 3:11 and Acts 3:19
- How are we to be in our conduct and devotion while looking for the coming of the day of the Lord? 2 Peter 3:11-12
- How do we become the very holiness of God? 2 Cor. 5:21
- What does scripture say about being holy? Leviticus 19:2 and 1 Peter 1:16.
- What do we await, and what will reside? 2 Peter 3:13
Personal – How have you experienced God’s patience with you? How have you shown patience to your parents, children, friends, schoolmates or co-workers in revealing God’s truth to them and their choice to accept or reject it?
FOURTH DAY READ MARK 1:1-8 GOSPEL
(“…He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit.”)
- What begins here, and what is written in Isaiah as to who is being sent and for what reason? Mark 1:1-2
- What was the herald’s voice in the desert crying? Mark 1:3
- What message has God entrusted to us? 2 Corinthians 5:19
- What does Jesus say the Father has done to him, and in turn, does to us? John 17:18
- Who appeared in the desert, what was he proclaiming, and to what did it lead? Mark 1:4
- What is to be preached to all the nations? Luke 24:47
- Who went out to John, what was happening to them as they confessed their sins? Mark 1:5
- To whom are we to confess our sins? James 5:16
- With what was John clothed, what did he wear around his waist, and what was his food? Mark 1:6
- With what are we to cloth ourselves, and what is our food? Ephesians 6:13-17, John 4:32-34
- What was the theme of John’s preaching, and in what has he baptized us? Mark 1:8, John 1:29-33
Personal – Examine your conscience. Write out what way you have seen yourself sin, and how you have experienced being baptized in water and the Holy Spirit?
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 85:9-14
(“I will hear what God proclaims.”)
Read and meditate on Psalm 85:9-14.
What is the Lord saying to you personally through the Psalm?
How can you apply this to your life?
SIXTH DAY READ ALL OF THE COMMENTARY
ISAIAH 40:1-5, 9-11
This week’s reading from Isaiah comes from a section sometimes called Second Isaiah (Chapters 40-55) and is generally considered to have been written by an unknown poet who prophesied near the end of the Babylonian exile. In 586 B.C. the city of Jerusalem fell, the walls and palaces were destroyed and the sacred temple burned. King Zedikiah and the rest of the population were marched to Babylon in chains. God has called his prophet to speak tenderly and to comfort his chosen people.
The seeds of comfort can take root in the soil of adversity. When it seems as if your life is falling apart, ask God to hold you and comfort you. You may still experience the trials and tribulations of adversity, but you may find God’s comfort right in the midst of it. To some, the only comfort people have is the knowledge that someday they will be with God. I speak now to those who seem to be experiencing very little signs of hope concerning their physical health, in their imprisonment or in their marriage. Hold on. Appreciate the comfort and encouragement found in His word, His presence, His Eucharist and his people.
The voice of hope calls out to us, as well as to the people in this reading, to prepare a straight and smooth way. This means removing obstacles in our life that prevent us from receiving Jesus into our heart. The desert in our life today can be a picture of life’s trials and suffering. We are not immune to them, but because of our faith and because of God’s promise (John 3:16), we need not be hindered by life’s obstacles.
John the Baptist told the people to prepare to see God work, even in our lives now (Matt. 3:3). He challenged the people to prepare for the coming of the Messiah, and that is what Advent is about for us today. We are called to prepare for the coming of the Christ into our hearts. We are to prepare for the Incarnation of God. We need to smooth our crooked ways, and we do that by asking God to forgive us for our crooked ways and attitudes. In today’s reading, people are compared to grass and flowers that fade away (Is. 40:6-8). Our lives are mortal, but God’s word is eternal and unfailing.
2 PETER 3:8-14
This reading is a message of hope. The people of Peter’s time faced persecution and longed every day to be delivered. Peter tells them that a thousand years is like a day to the Lord. He was telling them that God is not slow and that he just is not on our timetable. Jesus is waiting so that more sinners will repent and turn to Him. He displays His incredible patience by dealing with us so mercifully. We are not called just to sit around and wait for Him. Rather, we are called to go forth and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19). The disciples realized that the time was short, and there was a lot of important work to do.
Today that message is being put forth in a sense of urgency. Here on earth we must plan our life as if we will live forever, and live it as if today was our last day. We are told that Christ’s return will be sudden and terrible for those who do not believe in Him and obey His commandments. Do you spend more of your time piling up earthly possessions, or are you striving to bring to others a message of hope?
We are called to bring our brothers and sisters back into repentance. Then they too will experience the incredible forgiveness of the Lord. God’s purpose for mankind is not destruction, but creation. He will burn the heavens and earth with fire, and He will create them anew. We cannot hurry God’s return, even if we are suffering now. He is waiting patiently for more of His rebellious children to repent. We can bring more people to faith in Him by the way we live our lives, especially if we are suffering. He wants us to be holy simply because He is holy, and He wants only the best for us.
Mark was not one of the twelve apostles, but he probably knew Jesus personally. This gospel is written in the form of a fast-paced story to Christians in Rome where there were many gods. Mark wanted the Romans to know that Jesus is the one, true Son of God.
We see John the Baptist announce Jesus’ coming and call for the people to straighten out their lives and give up their selfish ways of living. The people were called to renounce their sins, seek God’s forgiveness, and establish a personal relationship with God by believing and obeying his holy word. Today we are called to do the same, acknowledge that we are sinful, and renounce our sins. We can experience God’s forgiveness only when we admit we were wrong. John the Baptist was very popular, and his message of repentance was heard and accepted by many. Repentance does not mean “I am sorry;” it means “a change of attitude.”
John was telling everyone to prepare for someone who was coming who would be far more effective than he. John told the people that he was not fit even to tie the straps of this man’s sandals. He told the people that the Messiah would baptize them with water and the Spirit. The purpose of John’s preaching was to prepare people to accept Jesus as God’s Son. John challenged the people into a new personal relationship with God when he called the people to confess individually.
Where are you right now? Is change needed in your life before you can hear and understand Jesus’ message? You have to admit that you are sinful in order to receive forgiveness. You must have true repentance to have true faith.
This week’s first reading tells us that our God is a God who comforts. The second reading reveals that God deals with each one of us mercifully. The Gospel shows that the response to repentance leads to the power of forgiveness.
This week, let us acknowledge to those around us some of our very obvious flaws. Take a specific fault, like making judgments, and tell them that you are going to change, and if your friends see you being judgmental, to point it out to you in love. This will make a dramatic improvement with your loved ones, those in your work area or school. Be specific and pick the small flaws first, then pray and change (repent). Your change, not your words or tears, will bring forgiveness. Try this with smoking, drinking, lying, swearing, etc. Do something beautiful for God – change (repent).