2nd Sunday of Advent (commentary)
by Anne-Catherine AVRIL, nds.
The second reading of Rm 15 speaks of the “comfort of the Scriptures.” All that has been written in advance in the Holy Scriptures was to instruct us so that through the perseverance and comfort of the Scriptures we may have hope. And this is given by the “God of perseverance and comfort.” The word translated by consolation is the Greek “paraklésis”, consolation, from which is derived in the NT the name of the Holy Spirit. So today these Scriptures must give us hope, beginning with the first reading of the prophet Isaiah in ch. 11. It is in the 8th century BC under the threat of the Assyrian invasion that already destroyed the northern kingdom, Israel, that Isaiah pronounces this oracle: A branch will emerge from the stump of Jesse. The verb is unaccomplished and preceded by this little letter, which transforms the future into the past and the past into the present, which is specific to Hebrew grammar. This means that the promised salvation is already germinating and is moving towards its fulfillment. Moreover, this salvation is described as something very small that only needs to grow: a branch, an offspring, an infant, a little boy: such will be the descendant of David filled with all the manifestation of the Spirit. It will open and already open an era of peace, like a return to paradise. And now the root of Jesse will rise up. How can a root be raised? … by its offspring.
The Gospel actualizes another prophecy of Isaiah in ch 40, which also begins by console, console my people. We are then at the moment of the return of the exile to Babylon several centuries later … it is the same story. “Prepare the ways of the Lord.” To note that it is not written “prepare the way for Israel”, to facilitate its return, but “prepare the way of the Lord”. A path of conversion, the one preached by John the Baptist. And this path has already been traced by the preceding text: to help bring about this era of peace; And in the Romans: to agree with one another, to give glory to God with one voice, together Jews and Nations. The psalm sings this universal peace, great peace, until the end of the moons, salvation, very concrete: concern for the weak and the poor, to do justice to the unfortunate. May through the King, the Messiah, the salvation, all the nations of the earth be blessed .
The baptism in the Spirit and the fire announced by John the Baptist seems terrifying, yet if the fire purifies, the Spirit which operates a discernment, he is that of which Isaiah has spoken, and his discernment is moved by mercy Who will not judge by appearance, but with justice and righteousness.
Message of hope through all these readings, message demanding and consoling, conveyed by all the Scriptures which of course reaches us today.
Translated by Br. Joel Moreira, NDS.