Year B: Year of Mark
Second Sunday in Advent
Second Reading: Corinthians 3: 8-14
St Peter is writing to a community who expected the Second Coming to happen at any moment - and who were wondering, perhaps, why there should be such a delay.
Those who did not believe saw the failure of Jesus to return as His followers expected as proof of their folly in believing in Him. Even today, the belief that the world will eventually come under the reign of God leaves believers open to ridicule and hostility.
St Peter offers an explanation which emphasises the mercy of God - His forbearance and desire that everyone should be saved. God is being patient with his people - as the history of the Jewish people had shown time and time again.
God’s time is not our time. Human beings are conditioned to see a day as 24 hours - from sunrise - to sunset - to sunrise again. Our time is so closely linked to the sun and moon - to the universe in which we live - that we tend to think that God is tied to the same calendar and clock.
As St Peter points out, God is not confined to what we understand about time and space - but is beyond them.
The end times (eschatology) are also beyond human comprehension and any words that we use fall far short of whatever the reality will be. We are limited to using words like “day” which for God is as relevant as saying “a thousand years” - or even “a million years”. God is eternal and lives in the eternal now.
We hear the end of the world being described in dramatic terms - the sky dissolving in flames - elements melting in the heat. This has provided fuel for many apocalyptic paintings - and has been used by “doom mongers” to fill people with fear. Some have thought that what is being described is a major nuclear war.
But again - we are limited by human words - we cannot begin to comprehend what the end of the world means. This is when we need to remember the words of Isaiah promising that God will come in power - but also in tenderness. The new heaven and new earth - whatever they are! - will be places where those who have tried to live good, upright lives will feel at home - will find eternal peace.
What does it mean for me?
How does the Reading help you to understand God - and the passing of time?
What does God’s patience mean to you? Which parts of you is He still working to perfect?
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