The Introduction to the Lectionary (in yellow box below) provides a useful guide to the readings of Advent.
A brief summary of the readings and Presidential Prayers set for the 2nd Sunday follows below.
93. Each gospel reading has a distinctive theme: the Lord’s coming at the end of time (First Sunday of Advent), John the Baptist (Second and Third Sunday), and the events that prepared immediately for the Lord’s birth (Fourth Sunday).
The Old Testament readings are prophecies about the Messiah and the Messianic age, especially from the Isaiah.
The readings from an apostle serve as exhortations and as proclamations, in keeping with the different themes of Advent.
94. There are two series of readings: one to be used from the beginning of Advent until 16 December; the other from 17 to 24 December.
In the first part of Advent there are readings from Isaiah, distributed in accord with the sequence of the book itself and including salient texts that are also read on the Sundays. For the choice of the weekday gospel the first reading has been taken into consideration.
On Thursday of the second week the readings from the gospel concerning John the Baptist begin. The first reading is either a continuation of Isaiah or a text chosen in view of the Gospel.
In the last week before Christmas the events that immediately prepared for the Lord’s birth are presented from Matthew (chapter 1) and Luke (chapter 1). The texts in the first reading, chosen in view of the Gospel reading, are from different Old Testament books and include important Messianic prophecies.
A more general guide to the season of Advent can be found at http://www.liturgyoffice.org.uk/Calendar/Seasons/Advent.pdf
The Gospel of the 2nd Sunday of Advent introduces John the Baptist to our keeping of Advent. Christians may especially think of John in terms of his preparing the way for Jesus. This is not wrong, of course, but there is more to John’s proclamation.
His words echo the words of Isaiah which anticipated Israel’s return to the Promised Land from exile in Babylon. Like all the prophets before him, he calls Israel to a new reception of the Lord. And that reception of the Lord is about more than welcoming Jesus – it is about responding to Jesus, it is about being ready to change our world and our society in order to orient ourselves, fit ourselves for godly living.
St Paul in the second ready speaks about our preparation for the Day of Christ – a future day of Christ. It is our responsibility to prepare ourselves for what is still to come – not only ourselves as individuals but also each other, for fellow Christians and for our every neighbour.
Baruch speaks to a Jerusalem cloaked in sorrow and distress, lacking in integrity. We do not need to look far to see the sorrow, distress and lack of integrity that mars our present world. We need to receive the hope and promise of Baruch’s prophecy – assured that it is not just for Israel, but for all. The living God seeks to lead all creation by the light of his glory, sustaining us with his mercy.
The responsorial Psalm anticipates Jews and ‘heathens’ being united in praise of the Lord, and in wonder at his saving works.
Most people in our churches will be of ‘heathen’-stock. And some of us will not be used to be counted as, in at least some sense, second-class citizens. If we do not like it, we might reflect on what it must be like to have encounter that evaluation, or prejudice or discrimination, on a daily basis. Our discomfort may encourage us to try to do something about what more regularly and more gravely disadvantages some of our brothers and sisters.
The Collect speaks of that wisdom which might make us more ready and fit to be in the company of the Lord. What better wisdom can there be, than that which helps us to love others for who they are? What better wisdom is there than that which helps us ‘judge wisely the things of earth and hold firm to the things of heaven’ – as it is put in the post Communion prayer, this Sunday.
Photograph: (c) 2013, Allen Morris. Church of Nativity of John the Baptist, Ein Kerem, Israel