(2nd Sunday of Advent: Isaiah 40:1-11; 2 Peter 3:8-14; Mark 1:1-8)
About four months ago, we had the same Responsorial Psalm (85) as today, and we commented on the words, “justice and peace shall kiss,” as opposites. In the context of today’s readings, however, the perspective is different.
In modern languages, justice is a legal term. In the news, we hear of persons or groups “demanding” justice. But in the Bible, it is primarily theological. Like peace, it is God’s gift to his faithful people.
Isaiah speaks wonderful words of comfort, predicting the end of the exile, which was God’s punishment upon the iniquity of his people. St. Peter reminds us of God’s promise of “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” Some translations have “justice.” Either way, it means the state of those who are such as they ought to be.
In this sense, John the Baptist was just, because he was faithful to his vocation. Mary, too, was just when, at the annunciation, she acknowledged and accepted her role as handmaid of the Lord. Both, in their humble service, were as they ought to be.
When we consider Mary’s message at La Salette, we are inclined to associate justice with “the arm of my Son.” But once we admit our sinfulness and make the humble submission that she asks of us, we are ready to hear her tender word of comfort.
We often draw attention to the crucifix on Mary’s breast. Today is no exception. See how it reflects Isaiah’s words as if they were addressed to the Beautiful Lady: “Go up on to a high mountain, fear not to cry out and say: Here is your God!”
As St. Peter writes, “The Lord does not delay his promise, … but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
Comforting words indeed. What he adds a bit later is more challenging: “What sort of persons ought you to be, conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion?”
How full our life would be if, unworthy as we are, we were always able to give comfort, to speak tenderly, and to proclaim the forgiveness of sin, in kindness, truth, justice and peace. This is yet another way to make the La Salette message known.
Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.