We can’t only pray for justice. We must also work to promote it.
The first reading from Baruch builds on themes we have encountered over the past few weeks, as divine splendor is at the forefront. God’s awesomeness is affirmed using royal imagery, and divine majesty is explicitly connected with justice as God is wrapped in a “cloak of justice.”
The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy. (Ps 126:3)
How do you respond to the needs of the world?
What brings you joy?
What can you do to prepare yourself spiritually for the celebration of Christmas?
The second reading from the Letter to the Philippians builds on the idea of justice in the first reading. Paul prays for the community as partners with God who create a just society by embracing and living out the Gospel message of love. Paul notes actions that help to strengthen the relationship with God, praying that the Philippians increase in love, knowledge, perception and discernment “so that you may be pure and blameless.” These practices are foundational to fostering a good relationship with God and one another.
During the season of Advent, we should be intentional in trying to improve, to grow mentally and spiritually and to help to create a just society. Perhaps increasing one’s service, reading a new book, learning a new skill or devoting time to spiritual discernment are ways that we can live out some of the principles highlighted in the second reading. Moreover, the emphasis on justice should not be missed. During Advent (and always) we must remain aware of the many injustices that plague the world and find ways to address and alleviate suffering. Paul’s language of partnership should empower us to be engaged in helping to create a just society, not simply praying for divine justice to take effect but working to promote justice.
In the Gospel of Luke, we hear about John the Baptist and his preaching ministry which prepared people for the arrival of the Messiah. John’s preparation is not simply proclaiming the arrival, but helping people to live righteously, echoing the focus on justice in the other readings. His ministry emphasized repentance and forgiveness of sins. The beginning of the new liturgical year as well as the end of the calendar year is an opportune time to reflect, acknowledge our shortcomings and correct wrongdoing.
In the midst of all of this preparation, there is an element of joy that permeates today’s readings and this season. The theme of joy is present in the first reading as people are instructed to seek and find joy in God. The responsorial psalm emphasizes rejoicing because of God’s active presence in the world. Joy is also found in the second reading, as Paul is joyful in his prayer for the Philippians. This language of joy anticipates Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday celebrated next week. It is an important element that we should heed during Advent. While many of the Advent readings have a heightened urgency, anticipation and vigilance within them, the season should also inspire us to rejoice and be glad.