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The Second Sunday in Advent
excerpt from
COMMON PRAYER: A Commentary on the Prayer Book Lectionary
Volume 1: Sunday Next before Advent to Epiphany VI 
St. Peter Publications Inc. Charlottetown, PEI, Canada
Reprinted with permission of the publisher.
“In him shall the Gentiles hope,” prophesies Isaiah in today’s epistle. Our Advent expectation of the Lord’s coming is our hope for salvation. The revelation of God in Holy Scripture gives us this hope: “that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” Today’s readings focus on the hope of our salvation and upon the Scriptures of God. “Whatsoever things were written aforetimes were written for our learning,” and so we must “hear them, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them.” Thus, this Sunday is often called “Scripture Sunday”.

The Holy Scriptures prepare us for the coming of Christ in humility and in judgement. We await the fullness of God’s revelation in Jesus Christ, who comes at the fullness of time, when all things are in readiness, He is the hope of our salvation, for in him all things are fulfilled. His coming in time means also his coming at the end of time — his final coming of which the gospel speaks. In this we learn the true nature of our hope for salvation. The fulfillment of all things in Christ means the destruction of all our worldly aims, ambitions and hopes: “men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth,” His coming means a judgement, ever-present and ultimate, upon those who cling to the passing things of this world rather than to the Lord, whose “words shall not pass away.” Christian hope is an other-worldly hope, and so we must accept God’s final judgement in order that “by patience and comfort of [his] holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life.”

The office readings for this week continue the emphasis upon the hope of our salvation and the revelation of God in Holy Scripture.

Isaiah brings out not only God’s judgement upon the nations of the earth, but also the hope of salvation for all peoples. The smiting and healing of the Lord returns all nations to the Lord; even the enemies of Israel are blessed (ch.19). Isaiah presents both a vision of God’s universal judgement at the end of time (ch.24) and visions of the restoration and salvation of Israel. We learn from Scripture, for the Lord is our Teacher. “Though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher” (ch.30). The Lord calls his people to penitence and prayer, as the example of King Hezekiah shows: “the Lord will save me” (ch.38). We end this week’s readings with the comfort and consolation of God’s salvation. “Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, saith your God” (ch. 40). The hope of our salvation is the Lord: “your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel” (ch.41).

St. Mark’s Gospel continues to unfold the meaning of Christ’s coming in our midst. Christ teaches about his kingdom by word and deed. He shows the power of God that goes forth to calm the sea-storm, to cleanse the soul of the unclean spirits that are legion, to heal, and to restore to life. His teaching nonetheless causes offence: “a prophet is not without honour save in his own country” (6.4). This and the beheading of John the Baptist anticipate the death of Christ at the hands of men. We end this week, however, with the compassion of Christ, who provides for his people in the story of the feeding of the multitude. In his compassion is the hope of our salvation.

This week’s readings from Revelation bring all the evils of the world into the heaven of God, where they are overcome by the Lamb of God. All evil, all that opposes the goodness of God, is concentrated in the two beasts (ch.13). The vision of the Lamb (ch.14) offers the hope of salvation in the midst of tribulation. “They will make war on the Lamb and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is the Lord of lords and King of kings and those with him are called and chosen and faithful” (ch.17). We endure by faith and in the hope of our salvation. “O Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us” (B.C.P., p.84).