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Second Sunday of Advent (A)

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand

The Word This Week

Throughout the first three weeks of Advent our focus is very clearly on the End of Time, and the Second Coming of the Lord - not on the run up to Christmas (that only comes in the last week). If we view Advent as a Season preparing for Christmas these readings will make little sense - and neither will the figure of John the Baptist who appears today: if it was about the preparation for Christmas, then John the Baptist, preaching after Jesus was born, becomes a confusing figure: his role is to preach to us, as he did of old, and to prepare us for the (second) coming of the Lord. Everything gets more specific today: what is being preached is not an event, but a person: Isaiah promises him, John welcomes him, Paul invites us to imitate him. We have here a thumbnail portrait of the Messiah – useful to refer to when we get to Christmas and he is revealed as a child in a manger!

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Isaiah 11:1-10

Isaiah utters this great prophecy describing the Promised Messiah: what will he do when he comes? This beautiful reading contains some of the most memorable and powerful Advent imagery; the reader should do her best to enjoy this imagery, and to allow all the ideas and pictures to engage the attention and (more importantly) the imagination of the listeners. Reading too quickly will kill this reading: you must take your time! Without reading too slowly that it becomes painful for the congregation, give them plenty of time to hear, listen and think. Especially look for the pauses between themes – there is a big change of mood when you move into the part starting “The wolf lives with the lamb…”. The beginning of the reading can be problematic: “shoot” and “scion” are unusual words to apply to a person, and despite the familiarity of this reading, it can take a while for people to “tune in” – this is one of those occasions where a brief and well thought out introduction to the First Reading can be useful (either given by the Presider, the Reader or a Commentator). Use the “sense lines” the reading is printed in to gauge your pace.


Second Reading: Romans 15:4-9

This reading is about patience and hope – “Christ is coming again, keep going!” When you begin, aim for the word “hope” on line 2. This reading is a link into the Mission of John the Baptist, who had to preach to a people who had been waiting for hundreds of years! He was telling them that Christ was coming, so that God could “fulfil his promises to the Patriarchs.” We’ve already been waiting nigh on 2,000 years for Christ’s Second Coming, so Paul’s words are suitable for us, too! As long as you have read this out loud beforehand, it should not present too many problems. You still have to insert some “mental commas” to make sure that the phrases come out correctly (so, for example, you should insert a slight pause after “…something about hope,” on line 2) Practise the intonation of “not only…” to “it was also…” in the second paragraph: these phrases must balance each other: try different readings out loud until you find one that works.



Click on the link to get this week's Gospel based Wordsearch. Feel free to copy and paste it into your parish publications.

Advent Reconciliation Service

The Programme of Initiation of Children in the Diocese of Salford calls for the First Celebration of the Sacrament of Penance during the Advent Season. Resources for these children's celebrations will have been receievd by Parishes. However, it may also be suitable to celebrate a Reconciliation Service directed at adults (which could include individual confession and absolution if wished). A form of such a service is available here:

Advent Reconciliation Service (Adults) PDF Document

Advent Reconciliation Service (Adults) Word Document