December 7th, 2014 (see other dates)
Second Sunday of Advent
Discussion Questions for Reading 1Isaiah uses the images of desert and wasteland to describe the highway where God will come to his people. How are our hearts and our world a desert and a wasteland in need of God's coming? What can we do to open our hearts and receive the words of comfort and hope, first spoken in a time of great sorrow? Is it difficult to open our hearts to the comfort and hope Jesus brings? Is there a way to prepare the way for Jesus in our world? There is also an image of God as Shepherd in this reading. How does he care for the lambs?
Reading 1 Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
Reading 1 ReflectionIn the first reading we hear the words of comfort and hope to the people in a time of great sorrow: "Comfort, give comfort to my people. . . ." The author tells the people to look up; the Messiah is coming: "Prepare the way of the Lord!" John the Baptist will use these same words in today's gospel to announce his mission. How will we receive the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who comes in God's name to comfort and speak tenderly to us? What can we do to welcome him into our lives?
Discussion Questions for Reading 2What does it mean to live a life of conversion? In what ways can we bring about our own conversion? We await a "new heaven and a new earth." What did the promise of God say would be two characteristics of this new day? How can we help this new day arrive?
Reading 2 2 Peter 3:8-14
Reading 2 ReflectionIn this reading the author was instructing believers who expected the second coming of Christ to take place right away and were troubled that it was delayed. He reminds them that for God a thousand years is like one day. The task of the Christian is to live a life of patience, generosity, and conversion until God comes at the end of time, this is called "the day of the Lord" in this letter of Peter.
At the heart of Peter's message and its imagery of the world's end is the need for conversion. We wish to make straight and smooth everything in our lives?our selfishness and pride, our impatience and meanness, our laziness and indifference?whatever blocks the way of the Lord.
Discussion Questions for GospelWhy does Mark?s gospel begin with the story of John the Baptist? How does Mark connect John and Jesus to the Hebrew scripture? John has sometimes been called the last Hebrew prophet. Where did he preach and baptize? To whom did his preaching point? Describe John?s ministry. What does the last verse of John?s gospel mean when it says, "I have baptized you with water, he will baptize you in the Holy Spirit?"
Gospel Mark 1:1-8
Gospel ReflectionIn this gospel reading Mark introduces John the Baptist as the messenger of the Messiah, sent by God to prepare his path. John preaches a baptism of repentance and the forgiveness of sins in the desert by the River Jordan. The coming Messiah will baptize with the Holy Spirit. He is mightier than John or any of the prophets before him.
Let us prepare for Jesus' coming as John taught the people to prepare: with repentance for our sins, with welcoming hearts, with unselfish love, and with generosity for one another.
Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades
Heralding the Good NewsIn the first reading, Isaiah tells us to be heralds of good news. Have the children herald good news by encouraging them to write or illustrate some good news. Provide strips of light colored construction paper for the children to use. After they have completed their writings or illustrations, show the children how to form one of the strips into a loop and tape or staple it closed. Encourage the children to share good news each day, adding links to the chain throughout the season of Advent.
Remembering John the BaptistIn the Gospel we meet the prophet, John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Jesus. While in the desert, John ate wild honey. Reread the Gospel. Explain that John was Jesus' cousin.
Remember John the Baptist by sharing an Advent treat. Spread crackers with honey for the children to eat. (Note: Check for children?s allergies before sharing the Advent treat.)
Proclaiming Faith Activities
A Just WorldSaint Peter tells us in the second reading that we await new heavens and a new earth in which "righteousness dwells." What are some things that would make the world today more "righteous or just" in God's eyes?
What can you do now as an individual to help make these things happen? Share you ideas with your family or friends and discuss ways you can work together to achieve these goals.
Preparing for the Lord's ComingReflect quietly for a few moments on the good qualities or virtues you must deepen in order to prepare your heart for the Lord's coming. Think of three qualities that you think you need to improve in your life, e.g., honesty, truthfulness, kindness, loyalty, forgiveness, gratitude, obedience, responsibility. Write a prayer asking Jesus to help you to grow in these virtues.
WHO ARE YOU?Fill in the names of some of those who were present at your Baptism. Ask one of them about that day if you don't know all the answers.
Mother, Father, Godmother, Godfather, Priest or Deacon who baptized you. Who else was there? What was the date? What was the weather like? What words were said? Was there a party? What did you become?
For Bibles and other scripture resources, please see the Sadlier Religion Catalog.
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