Today’s first reading comes from the book from the prophet Baruch. Baruch is one of the seven Old Testament books that Protestants, beginning with Martin Luther, have chosen to omit from the Bible. Luther’s reasons for this were varied-he did not believe that the books were originally written in Hebrew (though later scholarship demonstrated that some were), he didn’t like what they taught (like praying for the dead), etc. However, regardless of the reasons, it is sad to have missed the beauty and hope expressed in the prophecy we read today.
Baruch’s message speaks to us of putting off the old life of sin and death, “take off your robe of mourning and misery” and putting on the new life of grace, “put on the splendor of glory from God forever.” We hear future Christians prophetically called to “wear the miter that displays the glory of the eternal name.” The eternal name can be understood as that of the God-man, Jesus, and his glory is the cross. Reflecting on this, the monk Olympiodorus of Alexandria saw the miter which displays the glory of the eternal name to be a prophetic foreshadowing of the cross marked on the heads of the faithful at the time of their baptism.
Finally, we hear him speaking of how “God has commanded that every lofty mountain be made low, and the age-old depths and gorges be filled to level ground.” In the Gospel we hear similar words from John the Baptist applied to Christ. In the prophet Baruch, we see that they are intended for Christ’s followers as well, the new people of Israel, God’s people. Through God’s gifts we too walk upon level ground, securely advancing to the fulfillment of God’s Kingdom.
Baruch’s prophecy and, indeed, all the readings today are filled with a spirit of hope. It is the hope birthed from God’s breaking into our world and becoming one of us. It is the hope that shines forth most brightly on Christmas day. It is with eyes fixed on this mystery that we embrace this Advent season of preparation.
Hopefully everyone has had a good beginning to Advent-taking the time to choose areas in which to fast, pray, and serve in preparation for the joy of our King’s Christmas coming.
Besides these fundamental spiritual practices, there is another common way of preparing for the great festivities of Christmas; it is receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Knowing how busy this time of year is, how packed peoples’ schedules can be, and how short the Advent season is, in lieu of a penance service, additional times for confession have been added to the schedule. In total, there will be eight opportunities a week to receive the Sacrament.
The only exception to this schedule being the morning of Friday, Dec. 18th. The bishop has asked all priests of the diocese to gather in Spokane that day. Though there will still be 7:15AM Mass at St. Francis, Assumption’s 8AM Mass with its following confessions will be unavailable that day. Hopefully, the other varied days, times and locations will provide everyone with a chance to go. God bless!
Advent – Reconciliation
Tuesday, December 8th until Christmas
6:45 AM – St. Francis
4:30 PM – St. Patrick
9:00 AM – Assumption
4:00 PM – Assumption
5:00 PM – St. Francis
9:00 AM – St. Patrick
9:30 AM – Assumption
11:00 AM – St. Patrick