Second Sunday of Advent
Who is this John the Baptist?
(To read today’s Mass readings go to the link at the bottom of the page.)
Mark opens his gospel saying,
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way.
‘A voice of one crying out in the desert:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.’”
He lived in Judea about the same time as Jesus and is supposed to be his cousin. He was very popular. Large crowds of people came to hear him preach and to stand in line to be baptized by him. He gave people hope and called people to their senses in a time when the world was crazy and mixed up, not unlike our own time.
He was a wiry character. He lived on the edge of the desert and wore a shirt of camel’s hair, that in the hot sun, would have been horribly uncomfortable. I would surmise that he was pretty smelly out there in the desert. The scriptures record that he also wore a leather belt around his waist. His diet consisted of locusts and wild honey. (Locusts are like grasshoppers.) Have you ever had a chocolate-covered grasshopper? Actually they’re not bad. Kind of crunchy. And very nutritious. Lots of protein.
Well, anyway, people were beginning to think great things about John. Large crowds came to hear him.
In our respectable Sunday assemblies, though, he would probably be looked upon with scorn; he was certainly not the kind of guy we would expect to be the Messenger for the Son of God. But that’s what he was. (And we better pay attention to his message because it is critical for our own times.)
He spoke fearlessly, unafraid of what the hypocritical religious leaders might do to him. Eventually Herod had him imprisoned and Herodias demanded his head on a platter.
And this is what he proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the holy Spirit.”
In John’s Gospel, he adds the wonderful line, “He must increase, I must decrease.” (Jn. 3:30) (That, by the way, gives us the date of the birthday of Jesus near the winter solstice when the days start get longer and John’s birthday ~ June 24th ~ is near the summer solstice when they start to get short again.
And so, the Christmas message is that Love has entered the world.
As we enter this second week of Advent, let’s ask ourselves:
How can I prepare the way for the Lord (or Love)
at the office,
in my neighborhood,
in our country,
in our politics,
in our world ~ this week?
God’s message to us in the Christmas story is Love.
That’s why he was born, entering our world as a vulnerable baby.
And that’s why he died – vulnerable / bound / nailed –
because the Father wanted us to have evidence that he loved us.
And in turn, his message is . . .
Love one another as I have loved you.
Let’s stop blaming others for what’s wrong and realize and repent of our own responsibility.
Let’s do it this week — this second week of Advent,
And then we will truly have a beautiful / meaningful /joyful / authentic Christmas celebration.
We don’t need all the frenzied shopping or giving frivolous, expensive gifts.
Our children don’t need lots of stuff. For one thing, you need more silence in your house, not more noise! (We’ll get to the need for silence in our lives in a few days.)
Celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah by being kinder, more gentle and cheerful. Hold doors open for the folks behind you upon entering a store.
And, as I said yesterday, think about and pray about reconciling with a friend you’re at odds with. Smooth out hurt feelings. Give somebody – anybody – the gift of your presence rather than presents.
And now, here’s my personal prayer on this Second Sunday of Advent:
You have allowed me, your priest-servant the grace
to prepare the way for You in the lives on many people over forty years ~
children / octogenarians / homeless / imprisoned / dying /
grieving / celebrating / becoming Catholic / non-believers /
gay / parishioners / mentally ill / neighbors / friends / strangers.
What an honor and privilege!
Thank you, Lord for that awesome grace!
And please forgive me and heal the hurt of anyone whom I have turned away from You by my failures and sins.
I remember and pray for so many of them today.
I am eager to continue doing so in my writing. Guide my pen (my cursor), Lord.
And what a joy it would be if those whose lives I have touched in written word or in person realize they, too, can prepare the way for you in our troubled world.
Come, Lord Jesus!
Here are today’s Mass readings . . . Click here.
Now, listen and watch Prepare the Way of the Lord from Godspell Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen. (Get a chuckle out of Jesus’ 1973 ‘Fro.)
You might want to look up the following scripture references for Mass during the coming week if you have time: (Matthew 3:1-17 / 14:1-12 // Mark 1:1-8. // Luke 1: 39-45 / 1:57 – 80 // 3:1-20 / 7:18-35 // John 1:15-34 / 3:22-30