In the Liturgy of the Word for this Second Sunday of Advent (Year C), we will use Psalm 126 words from it as our response: The Lord has done great things for us, we are filled with joy (Ps 126:3). This Psalm was more than likely composed as Jewish exiles returned to their homeland following the Babylonian Captivity. The year is 538 B.C. What the Jews find is a homeland in shambles. The Temple – the dwelling place of God on earth! — is a pile of rubble; farmland is but weeds and will take a while before it can produce food; and everything is else is seems useless.
And yet they find joy! The gift of returning to their homeland after being forcibly taken from there some 70 years earlier is the work of God! Such grace cannot go without acknowledgment. And, it also takes knowing that they will need to cooperate with God in order to get it all back together.
The Church uses the story of the return from exile as a way of reminding us that our own exile is when we persist in our sins and stay away from the Sacrament in which God’s mercy overflows so we can be filled with His joy – the Sacrament of Penance. As we reach this Lord’s Day in Advent, now is the time to make plans to get to Confession and know the mercy, peace and joy that God will work in you. God will do the work. We simply need to cooperate with His grace.