Second Sunday of Advent

Celebrating Christmas after listening to the new restrictions announced by our government yesterday, seems like a contradiction in terms. I Think it is fair to say that many of us are not looking forward to celebrating Christmas once again this year, there is a sense  of déjà vu, we’ve seen this before. Since  March 2020 all of us have been in a wilderness, a wilderness caused by a minuscle virus called covid 19, and now we have a new variant called omicron. This has been and continues to be a very challenging time for all of us in different ways. Like the word of God that came to John in the wilderness, the word of God came to all of us in different ways and all of us are in a wilderness as well. The readings in our mass today, speak about the difficult time the chosen people of God find themsleves in. We also find ourselves in a challenging situation once again this christmas. One of the great landmarks, especially for people travelling to the USA, is the statue of liberty off the East Coast of America (which was donated by the French to commemorate the 100th. birthday of America). Barry Fitzgerald, an Irish Actor, who was in the quiet man, going my way and Darby O’Gill and the little people, remarked on one occasion, ‘Oh what a marvellous sight and to think that the people of Ireland, donated this to the American nation’. In our readings today, three words stand out: wilderness, witness and hope. In the gospel we hear how the Word of God came to John in the wilderness. The word of God has come to each one of us in different ways as well, and we as a community and as a nation have responded and continue to respond responsibly. The second word is witness: What exactly does witness mean? Many times we have seen in films about court room drama, the evidence of key witnesses. A witness is a person who has seen and heard what others have not seen and heard. Witnesses are so convincing that people believe what they are saying without any doubt.  Today in the gospel we find John the Baptist, who was a very courageous and faithtful witness. A faithful witness not only with his words but with his way of being. We are all called to be key witnesses. We don’t have to live where John lived, we don’t have to dress the way John dressed, but we must never forget that we are christians,  and we must show this with the moral example of our lives. Jesus still needs witnesses today to prepare the way and to carry his light to a darkened world.  Jesus needs us to shed a light of hope in  these parts of the world that are stil dark.  Jesus needs us, and when we hear his voice, let us respond: ‘here I am Lord’ and then each one of us can be a flame of hope for each other. Ask yourself today, what kind of witness am I? Make a resolution to be a better witness as you prepare for Christmas. The third word today is hope and the second reading of our mass today is full of hope. We all hoping that 2022 will be a much better year for all of us. We still have a journey to make, before we emerge from this wilderness, but with the witness of our lives, pulling together as a community and as a nation, we can rekindle the flame of hope in each other and experience the true joy of Christmas. “When I was a child, I laughed and wept. Then, time crept. “When I was a youth, I became bolder. Then, I strolled. “When I grew up, I became a man. Then, time ran. “Finally, into a ripe, old age I grew. Then, time flew. “Soon I shall be passing on. Then, time will be gone. “O Jesus, when death comes, nothing will matter – but you.”