2nd Sunday of Advent, Year C


Baruch 5: 1-9

Lector and trainer Lisa Bellecci-St. Romaine gives meaningful insights into the reading while conversing with the viewer throughout her proclamation. (View Archive)

This reading expresses the loyalty of widely scattered Jews to their homeland and its single temple in Jerusalem. The metaphor is that Jerusalem finally sees its exiled citizens coming home. Led by God, their path is made level and smooth. —Greg Warnusz


The Historical Situation

Enemies practically destroyed Jerusalem in 587 B.C.E., deporting many Jews to Babylon. Almost fifty years later, Cyrus the Persian defeated Babylon and decreed that exiles could return to their homelands. Many Jews returned to Judah and Jerusalem, but some stayed behind among the pagans. These people became known as the Diaspora (“dispersion”) Jews.

Most remained faithful to their religion, but cut off from the single Temple, which was in distant Jerusalem and not yet rebuilt anyway, they became People of The Book. That is, they nourished their faith on the teaching of God’s word delivered by prophets, scribes, and priests, primarily in their synagogue gatherings. They continued to feel their kinship with Judah’s Jews and express longing for Jerusalem and its Temple, but their writings are primarily about keeping the faith in a pagan milieu.

The book we read from today is named for Baruch, the secretary of the prophet Jeremiah who lived earlier in Jerusalem and in exile. But the book’s contents convince us that it’s a Diaspora document. This passage expresses the dispersed Jews’ loyalty to Jerusalem. It rehearses a prophecy that Baruch or Jeremiah might have delivered in that devastated city when exiles began to trickle home.

Understanding the Details

The first paragraph has three images of Jerusalem “dressing up” for the return of the exiles. Be sure you know the meaning and pronunciation of “mitre.” In last Sunday’s passage, Jeremiah said the restored exiles would be known by the new name “The Lord [is] our justice [perhaps better, ‘our righteousness’]”. Baruch declares their new names will be “the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship.”

Baruch 5:7 shares with Isaiah 40:3f this startling image: Between the land of the Captivity and Jerusalem, the desert will be leveled, its mountains smoothed down and its valleys filled up, so the returning exiles can travel in ease. Isaiah’s version is familiar to us from the gospel sayings of John the Baptist, and from the aria “Every Valley” in Handel’s Messiah.

Proclaiming the Passage

This is not an easy passage to proclaim. Its message is straightforward but its images are hard to grasp. How do you picture in your mind the following? “Wrapped in the cloak of justice from God, bear on your head the mitre that displays the glory of the eternal name.”

To prepare, go over every sentence carefully, so you understand the relations among the clauses. Mark up the text with a pencil if that will help. Then, at the lectern, try to communicate to the assembly the prophet’s grand hope and his excitement.

SOURCE: LectorPrep.org — Used with permission.


  • lector preparationMessage for Assembly: Advent is primarily a time of kindling lights, of defying the growing darkness, of nurturing all the promises we hear.
  • Challenge: To leave the assembly with the positive call to Jerusalem echoing in their memory.

Reading Guide/Reflection

Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God.

  • Advent tells us that the familiar assumptions and expectations we cultivate about our lives – the present age – will come to an end. 
  • Now I hear about the age that will follow, and my senses are flooded with images.  Let me spend some time with the reading, to gather my priorities and find the connections with the Gospel.

splendor of glory, cloak of justice, mitre of glory.

  • Jerusalem has dressed up in God
  • My words should stimulate our sense of sight, because God’s people are being shown to all the world.

The peace of justice

  • Now a new name for the holy city.  We know it well from our own striving for justice among peoples
  • Justice always goes together with peace when we talk about the peace that comes from God, that peace we demand from the Lamb.

Up, Jerusalem!  Stand upon the heights.

  • Even the least prepared reader will read this command with some attention. 
  • I will use the words as a keynote for my listeners to remember, when the labors and long nights of December weigh them down.

See your children

  • The holy city will not hide itself before a mirror, but will look upon the people gathered from the east and the west who are called to live there – to be born there, as the psalm says. 
  • I rehearse a sense of depth in my voice as I say these words.

gathered at the word of the Holy One, remembered by God

  • It is God’s work, the prophet reminds us. 
  • I look with recognition upon my listeners at this point, confident in my belief that we Gentiles take part in the great homecoming story.

God has commanded that every lofty mountain be laid low

  • I hear an echo of Second Isaiah’s comforting news, and the reason: that Israel may advance secure.
  • Can I be equal to this impressive nature panorama, where mountains are leveled off and the depths and gorges are filled in? 
  • We will hear the promise repeated in today’s Gospel, in relation to John the Baptist.

forests and every kind of fragrant tree

  • Finally, the reading engages my sense of smell.  And I think of the fragrance of a massive, advancing and swaying candlelight procession when I hear that God is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory
  • To get to Jerusalem we must make a long climb from the coast, and the way I describe the procession will show this.
SOURCE: Lectorworks.org — Used with permission.
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Philippians 1: 4-6; 8-11

Lector and trainer Lisa Bellecci-St. Romaine gives meaningful insights into the reading while conversing with the viewer throughout her proclamation. (View Archive)

Christians in Philippi had received Saint Paul and his gospel eagerly, and had helped him on further apostolic missions. Paul loves them and is confident that they’ll be ready when Jesus comes again in glory. (Greg Warnusz) —Greg Warnusz


The Historical Situation

This is another of those Pauline passages referring to the second coming of Jesus, here named “the day of Christ” and “the day of Christ Jesus.” But that’s not where the emphasis really lies. Paul was very fond of the Philippian Christians, and very pleased with their spiritual progress and maturity.

Proclaiming the Passage

Paul’s affection for the Philippians gives a clue about how you should proclaim this. Imagine yourself a retired pastor, or a veteran bishop, giving a word of encouragement to a congregation. The congregation is special to you; you know them well, they’re good and cooperative, you love each other dearly. You just want to encourage them to keep on doing their best.

SOURCE: LectorPrep.org — Used with permission.


  • lector preparationMessage for the assembly: Put ourselves in the place of the apostle, so that our prayer include everyone who professes the same faith as ours, whether or not we care to read their op-eds and blogs.
  • Challenge: To reach the same level of effusive good will for a church as the apostle expressed in his letter.

Reading Guide/Reflection

I pray always with joy

  • We have a greeting statement from the apostle to a church he loved.   
  • Let me listen to this again and again, so that I can convey it to the church.  How often do we go into prayer in a spirit of joy?  It is almost as if our petitions to the Lord have already been answered!

Your partnership for the gospel

  • Visions like this helped restore us to the inclusive calling of every baptized Christian in the church.  Yes, the apostle may be a privileged teacher, but he looks on his fellow believers as partners.

He who began a good work in you will continue to complete it

  • Are you humming the same spiritual that I am?  Do I believe it sufficiently, so that I can say I am confident with the same freedom as the apostle?

Christ Jesus

  • The name Christ Jesus is repeated four times in these two brief passages.  I will link them with my voice, to make them sound like a litany, especially the first glowing mention of his affection for everyone. 
  • In this context, I begin to notice how the apostle ties his own feeling for the Philippians with the inexhaustible human feeling shown by Christ for his own.

And this is my prayer: that your love may increase

  • We heard this prayer in a different letter last week, but the object is the same.  This time he describes the love as knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value
  • There is a time-honored Christian formula that urges us to observe “unity in essentials, freedom in non-essentials, love in everything.”  This love is at the same time worldly-wise and innocent.

for the day of Christ

  • Our calling is an Advent calling, to prepare for the day of Christ.

Through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God

  • So ends the reading, and so we close the Eucharistic Prayer.  I will work to achieve the same high note.
SOURCE: Lectorworks.org — Used with permission.
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Gregory Warnusz

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