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We await new heavens and a new earth


This weekend St. Peter reminds us that waiting for the Lord is not something passive, but something that requires vigilance and diligence on our part. It is about serving the Lord. A waiter at a restaurant isn’t called that because the person sits around doing nothing, but instead they are waiting to serve. So this Advent we are reminded to “wait on the Lord’s table.” The short clip from above is a reflection on today’s New Testament reading that that touches on this theme. As you we continue in this season, “be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace” 2 Peter 3:14).

2 Peter 3:8-14

Do not ignore this one fact, beloved,
that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years
and a thousand years like one day.
The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,”
but he is patient with you,
not wishing that any should perish
but that all should come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief,
and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar
and the elements will be dissolved by fire,
and the earth and everything done on it will be found out.

Since everything is to be dissolved in this way,
what sort of persons ought you to be,
conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion,
waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God,
because of which the heavens will be dissolved in flames
and the elements melted by fire.
But according to his promise
we await new heavens and a new earth
in which righteousness dwells.
Therefore, beloved, since you await these things,
be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace.

Waiting for more? Check out the entire lectionary devotional series.

What to do while we are waiting

A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”

Last week, on the First Sunday of Advent, we were exhorted: “Be watchful! Be alert!” We posed the question: What is it that you are waiting for? This week, on the Second Sunday of Advent, we ask: what practically does watching and waiting mean? John the Baptist has the answer for us!

Preparation for the Way

“The Way” was an early designation for the Christian community. We see “the way” referenced several times in today’s reading. John the Baptist symbolizes the preparation that was necessary for the early Christian community. Life in these communities and house churches was literally dangerous, with both Jewish and Roman authorities leaning heavily on them.  One could be called on at any moment to give up one’s life in the name of Christ. Therefore, potential new community members needed a period of waiting and preparation before being fully initiated into the community through Baptism. This preparation required would-be Christians to to be very clear about their priorities and how much of a priority God was for them.

Amidst our holiday preparations, are we prioritizing time to spend with Jesus?

Asceticism

The preparation for “the Way,” as symbolized by John the Baptist, was marked, as we are shown in the readings today, by a rigorous asceticism. The Catholic Encyclopedia tells us:

The word asceticism comes from the Greek askesis which means practice, bodily exercise, and more especially, athletic training. The early Christians adopted it to signify the practice of the spiritual things, or spiritual exercises performed for the purpose of acquiring the habits of virtue.

John’s camel hair tunic, diet of locusts and honey, and generally radical lifestyle is the archetype of early Christian asceticism. The desert was always associated with fasting, prayer, and a stringent, focused way of life. We see the beginnings of the tradition of desert asceticism in John, which, coupled with Jesus’ forty day fast in the desert, forms the basis of the entire desert monastic tradition that arose in the second century around St. Antony the Great and the other Desert Fathers.

How can you be more focused and deliberate with your spiritual practices this Advent?

The Voice Crying Out in the Desert

Life in Mark’s Christian community was marked by much chaos and confusion. The Gospel of Mark was written around 70 AD, which is the year the Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem. This injected significant fear and confusion into the Christian community, particularly for the Jewish converts. The Christian community, with its rituals of Baptism and Eucharist, was the antidote to that chaos. The Church then, as it does now, saw itself as initiating the restoration of creation itself in Christ. If we cannot discern the voice in the desert, we miss what Christ has in store for us.

How much time are you spending each day listening for that “voice crying out in the wilderness?” What is the voice saying to you?

Proactively waiting

The theme of waiting is central throughout Advent. Last week we asked: “What are you waiting for?” This week we ask: “What do we do while we are waiting?” The “answer” that John the Baptist presents is ultimately paradoxical. On the one hand, we can wait and anticipate the Lord’s coming by ascetic discipline. On the other hand, we would also do well to wait and anticipate by not doing, by pausing in the midst of the chaos of holiday preparations to observe some prayerful silence so we can have the opportunity to hear the voice that is crying out to us from the desert.

Many Advent Blessings! See you next week.

Gospel Reading for the Second Sunday of Advent, Mark 1:1-8.

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way.
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.”
John the Baptist appeared in the desert
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
People of the whole Judean countryside
and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem
were going out to him
and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River
as they acknowledged their sins.
John was clothed in camel’s hair,
with a leather belt around his waist.
He fed on locusts and wild honey.
And this is what he proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

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You will encounter Pope Benedict’s influencer

Fathers of the Church Series (127 vols.)Hans Urs von Balthasar was considered to be one of the most important Catholic writers and theologians of the twentieth century. Pope Benedict had this to say about him: “. . . meeting Balthasar was for me the beginning of a lifelong friendship I can only be thankful for. Never again have I found anyone with such a comprehensive theological and humanistic education as Balthasar . . . and I cannot even begin to say how much I owe to my encounter with him.”

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For a limited time you can get $10 off when you spend $50 or more. All you have to do is use the coupon code SAVE10 at checkout. There are plenty of amazing deals this month, so use this opportunity to save even more before the deal ends on December 16!

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Check out December's deals!

Our faith has humble beginnings in a stable in Bethlehem. God has brought himself down to our level. Now ascend to the heights of these lofty mysteries by affording yourself the opportunity for more prayer and study. We have great resources for you to help shift your mind into the spirit of the season and prepare for Christ.

The Word in and out of Season (2 vols.)The Word in and out of Season (2 vols.)

In order to help contemporary Catholics connect to the liturgical year in an increasingly secularized American lifestyle, Richard Viladesau presents his reflections on the Scripture readings for liturgical seasons and events. Intentionally theological in nature, Viladesau’s homilies “confront some of the issues that arise in the minds of contemporary hearers of the Christian message.”

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The Navarre Bible: Saint Mark’s GospelAncient Christian Writers Bundle (66 vols.)

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https://verbum.com/products/54944/modern-catholic-authors-bundleModern Catholic Authors Bundle (243 vols.)

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Study Scripture with the Pope

Free Book of the Month

Scott Hahn is one of the most prominent Catholic authors and theologians of our time. A former Presbyterian minister, Hahn entered the Catholic Church in 1986 and has since become a bestselling author and respected professor of Scripture. “My work is about reading the Bible,” Hahn writes, “reading it with you, and reading it ‘from the heart of the Church.’”

In Covenant and Communion, Hahn offers a probing look at Benedict’s theology, providing a clear and concise introduction to the 265th pope’s life and work. Hahn argues that the heart of Benedict’s theology is salvation history and the Bible, and he shows how Benedict accepts historical criticism—but recognizes its limits. Examining how Benedict reads the overall narrative of Scripture, Hahn shows how Benedict puts it to work in theology, liturgy, and Christian discipleship. You can get it free this December.

Move from there to Hahn’s presentation of 1 and 2 Chronicles as a theological interpretation of Israel’s history, emphasizing the liturgical structure and content of Chronicles and providing fresh insight on salvation—past, present, and future. It’s yours this month for only $1.99.

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Verbum Now Member Benefits for December

Advent affords us a moment to slow down and reflect upon the ensuing Christmas mysteries. We’re called to set aside our normal pace and set our minds on higher things. These mysteries were fresh in the mind of the early Church. We want you to have a chance to look back to the life of the early Church and reflect upon the creeds that grew as a result of this deep meditation. Follow the development of the early creeds and their theological underpinnings and prepare yourself to enter more deeply into the Christmas mysteries.

For the month of December, Verbum Now members enjoy the following benefits:

J. N. D. Kelly’s Early Christian Doctrines and Creeds (2 vols.)

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What are you waiting for?

What is it that you are waiting for? Advent is here, and we typically think of this season as a time of waiting for Christmas. This may be true, but there’s more. The word Advent has its root in the Latin word for “coming.” In this season we are also reminded that we are awaiting the second coming of Christ. The gospel reading from today’s liturgy makes this emphatically clear: Jesus reminds us to always be ready, because we cannot know at what time he will return.

Waiting and being ready go hand in hand; we can’t adequately wait unless we are ready. We all know what it’s like when we wait in the checkout line, but we don’t have our money or all our items ready. That’s why this time of Advent is intended to help us shift our focus from our regular way of doing things and remind us that we should always have our minds on conforming to Christ. And if we truly believe that Christ is present to us now, we will realize that ultimately it is Christ who is waiting for us, knocking at the door of hearts. And to deepen the mystery even more, we become humbled when we realize that we cannot truly wait for Christ without the life of Christ in us—without the power of the Holy Spirit.

Below you will find a short clip from a reflection on today’s gospel reading that touches on this theme. As you enter into this busy season, think about the importance of what you are waiting for. Are you being distracted by the hustle and bustle around you, or are you being watchful and alert?

Mark 13:33–37
Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’ ”


Waiting for more? Check out the entire lectionary devotional series.

December is worth your wait

On Sunday we will officially be in the Advent season, and the mood and tone at worship will shift. We will be moved into a sense of anticipation: waiting for Christ’s birth and awaiting the second coming. We have some great resources to help you enter into this time of the year and meditate deeply upon the Word—and the mystery of the The Word made flesh. Enjoy these carefully chosen deals. We hope this Advent season is a time of spiritual renewal for you.

Save 20% off Verbum 7!

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Free Book of the Month

Scott Hahn opens up the biblical theology of Pope Benedict, and this month you can get for free his book Covenant and Communion, which gives a probing look at this theology.

Want more? Get Scott Hahn’s commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles for only $1.99.

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Verbum Black Friday

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Studying the Sacred Page

Classics of Western Spirituality Bundle (126 vols.)The Sacra Pagina New Testament Commentary Series presents fresh translations and modern expositions of all the books of the New Testament. The Second Vatican Council described the study of “the sacred page” as the “very soul of sacred theology” (Dei Verbum 24). The volumes in this series illustrate how Catholic scholars contribute to the council’s call to provide access to Sacred Scripture for all the Christian faithful. Rather than pretending to say the final word on any text, these volumes seek to open up the riches of the New Testament and to invite as many people as possible to study seriously the “sacred page.”

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