The readings for the Second Sunday in Advent are filled with hope, not because of what man has done or will do, but because of what God will do.
In the first reading, the author has a two-fold message: First, Jerusalem is to take off its robes of mourning and "put on the splendor of glory from God forever;" Second, it is to stand upon the heights and watch God bring back captives from exile in Babylon.
The readings for the first Sunday of Advent recall the promises of God and expectations of His blessings, looking forward to the fulfillment of those promises.
Jeremiah begins by saying, "The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah." Israel represents all of God's chosen people, and Judah represents the seat of worship in Jerusalem. Ultimately, Israel represents all of mankind, and Judah represents the Church, which Christ established to minister to all of mankind.
All earthly political systems and civilizations are here for a little while and then pass away. The readings for the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, point out that the kingdom of Heaven is here to stay, and it will last forever. On this Sunday, the Church celebrates the King of the kingdom of heaven, and that is Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
With the start of Advent on Nov. 29 beginning a new liturgical year, the Church has us focus on where we are headed.
With this focus, we can take one of two attitudes. We can be filled with dread as we think of what is coming, or we can be filled with joy in anticipation of what is ahead.
To use a concrete illustration: If we engage in our daily tasks always focusing on not getting fired from our jobs, we won't develop a good relationship with our employer. We'll work in constant fear of being fired. He's the bad guy we have to avoid displeasing.