Msgr. Owen Campion
The Sunday Gospel
December 9, 2023 // Perspective

In Advent, Our Entire Focus Should Be on the Coming of Christ

Msgr. Owen Campion
The Sunday Gospel

Second Sunday of Advent

The second part of the Book of Isaiah provides the first reading for this Second Sunday of Advent.

When this book was written,
God’s people were very happy. Their long, dreary exile of four generations in Babylon was about to end. They were looking forward to returning to their homeland.

Also, and importantly, these verses well convey the sense that this happy circumstance occurred because of God’s mercy and of God’s faithfulness to the Covenant.

It was not as if the people had earned God’s generosity
in this regard, or that they had been unusually loyal to the Covenant themselves. To the contrary, their sins had brought misery upon themselves.

Nevertheless, God’s mercy endured! So, the prophet insists that upon returning to their homeland, the people must go to Jerusalem, to the holy mountain where stood the Temple, and there proclaim aloud the goodness of God.

For its second reading this weekend, the Church presents a passage from the Second Epistle of Peter. Its theme differs from that of the first reading. The first reading was wonderfully optimistic. This reading is grim in its predictions of dark days and of unwelcome possibilities in the future.

However, and this is critical, it does not predict everlasting death. Bad things will happen. Difficult times will come, but God will always protect the faithful. In this last reassurance, the reading parallels the message of the first reading.

St. Mark’s Gospel furnishes the last reading. It is the beginning of the Gospel, as the first verse of the reading states, and the very opening verse states the purpose of this Scripture. It is the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

In these relatively few words, the entire reality of salvation is revealed. Something new is being proclaimed, utterly different from the sad moods and dreariness of human life, unbound by the variances of earthly existence. The news, furthermore, is good! Jesus, the Son of God, both conveys this Good News and brings its effectiveness into human life.

This reading quotes Isaiah’s prophecy that God will send a representative to guide the people from death to life, from the deadly effects of their sins to the bright realms of God’s forgiveness. God has been true to this pledge. He gives us Jesus.

The Gospel then tells of John the Baptist, who went throughout Judea calling people to repentance. John recognized Jesus. Anyone can recognize Jesus, the Son of God. Too many create an unrealistic image, an invention to confirm the easy way out, or to excuse them from the task of genuine conversion.


The “Christmas season” is here, big time. Somber Advent seems out of place, but Advent makes sense. It calls us to remember the birth of Jesus, what it meant, and to allow the Lord entry into our hearts.

A Protestant minister in New York, James Allen Francis, years ago, noted this about the Lord’s time on earth. “Twenty centuries have come and gone, and today He is the central figure of the human race. I am well within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned – put together – have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that one, solitary life.”

Jesus transformed human life by sweetening it and giving it purpose. He brightened millions upon millions upon millions of individual lives.

Nothing, before or after, matched what Jesus brought to, and gave, the world. Of course, the birth of Christ is entitled to our primary attention.

His mercy has not ended. Bringing Jesus into our own personal lives is worth every effort.

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