“Today we light the second candle of Advent” by Sr Bridget O’Connell FMA

“Today we light the second candle of Advent”               Reflection for 2nd Sunday of Advent


A young man approached the foreman of a logging crew and asked for a job. “That depends,” replied the foreman. “Let’s see you fell this tree.” The young man stepped forward, and skilfully felled a great tree. Impressed, the foreman exclaimed, “You can start on Monday.”

Monday Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday rolled by — and Thursday afternoon the foreman approached the young man and said, “You can pick up your pay cheque on the way out today.”

Startled, the young man replied, “I thought you paid on Friday.”

“Normally we do,” said the foreman. “But we’re letting you go today because you’ve fallen behind. Our daily felling charts show that you’ve dropped from first place on Monday to last place today.”

“But I’m a hard worker,” the young man objected. “I arrive first, leave last, and even have worked through my coffee breaks!”

The foreman, sensing the young man’s integrity, thought for a minute and then asked, “Have you been sharpening your axe?”

The young man replied, “No sir, I’ve been working too hard to take time for that!”

Our liturgy today gives us a loud call from Isaiah and from John the Baptist to take time to “sharpen our axe”, to prepare for the coming of the Lord during this time of Advent.

The call centers on the image of levelling the mountains and filling in the valleys, an image that goes back to the days when a king would be visiting the most remote parts of his empire and in preparation a smooth road would have to be prepared.  Today our preparation is so that the Saviour can find the road to our hearts.  The message is simple; level out the mountains of busyness and all that blocks out time for waiting and for reflection. Fill in the valleys of human need and learn to live in this present time, knowing that only the present well lived can possibly lead us to the fullness of life.

The work of advent is learning to wait. John the Baptist was the messenger who prepared the way for the Messiah. There are many messengers, of the good news, those who don’t even know that they are messengers, the care givers, the loving parents, the good neighbours, and those who live compassion. Advent calls us to recognise the many messengers in our lives. They are the people who remind us to sharpen our axe.