Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
1. Left to human management, world history can seem to be a wasteland, or at best a rough road. What about your personal history? Has it been it smooth all the time? Could this reading help to smooth out rough spots? How?
2. Do you think God has been walking on the roads of world history? Does God walk with you when you are in “rugged country”? Could Isaiah’s shepherd image help flatten out the ruggedness in your life?
2 Peter 3:8-14
1. This reading says that the Lord “is patient with you.” Granting this, are you patient with others? For instance, how do you react when a car cuts you off, or when you are blamed falsely? With holy anger or with forgiveness? Is there a line between holy anger and patience? Are you patient with yourself?
2. “ … We await new heavens and a new earth.” What is your relationship with earth? Do you take the earth for granted, or do you treat it with reverence? How?
1. Compare the statement of John the Baptist that he is, as Isaiah prophesied: “a voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths’” (John 1:23), with Pope Francis’ statement:
My mission of being in the heart of the people ... is not an “extra” or just another moment in life. Instead, it is something I cannot uproot from my being without destroying my very self. I am a mission on this earth; that is the reason why I am here in this world. We have to regard ourselves as sealed, even branded, by this mission of bringing light, blessing, enlivening, raising up, healing and freeing. All around us we begin to see nurses with soul, teachers with soul, politicians with soul, people who have chosen deep down to be with others and for others.
2. How do you share John the Baptist’s mission to proclaim Christ’s coming into the world? Do you do this with words or by the way you live? How is John’s message of repentance and judgment different from that of Jesus?