Advent Day 8 ~ The Messenger of the Son of God ~ You can be his messenger too!

baptist3

Second Sunday of Advent~ December 8, 2019

The emergence of John the Baptist, Scripture scholar William Barclay states, was like “the sudden sounding of the Voice of God.” Why? Because the prophets of Israel had been silent for four hundred years and the Jewish people were sadly conscious of that fact. And in today’s gospel, we find large crowds of people coming to hear John preach and to stand in line to be baptized by him.

He gave people hope and Challenged people to do what they ought to do; to be what they could be in a time when the world was crazy and mixed up, very similar to our own time. But he also denounced evil wherever he found it, in the state, in among the religious leaders, among the crowd.

He was a wiry character, living on the edge of the desert and he wore a shirt of camel’s hair, that in the hot sun, would have been horribly uncomfortable according to our standards.   The scriptures record that he also wore a leather belt around his waist and 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, very nutritious, with lots of protein.

People were beginning to think great things about John. Large crowds came to hear him.

His message: “Repent,  for the kingdom of God is at hand!”

(Yeah, I know.  You’ve heard that a zillion times before by street corner prophets.)

In our respectable Sunday assemblies, he would probably be looked upon with scorn;  he was certainly not the kind of guy we would expect to be the Advance Man 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, his wife, demanded his head on a platter.

John was a prophet . . .

A voice crying out in the wilderness

Prepare the way of the Lord,

make straight his paths.

Presbyterian Scripture scholar William Barclay offers this commentary on this gospel passage.

The Baptist’s message summoned his people to righteousness. He pointed beyond himself. It was the Jewish belief that Elijah would return before the Messiah would come, and he would be the herald of the coming King (Malachi 4:5).  So, they saw him as the new Elijah.

Then he makes this interesting observation: In ancient times in the East, the roads were bad.  Ordinary roads were no more than tracks. But Solomon built a causeway of black basalt stone that lead to Jerusalem for pilgrims.  They were built by the king and for the king and called “the king’s highway.”

John was preparing the way for the king. The preacher, the teacher with the prophetic voice, points not to himself but to God.

He said he was not fit to carry the sandals of the one who was to come. Carrying sandals was the duty of a slave. John’s whole attitude was self-obliteration.  “He must increase; I must decrease,” John the evangelist would have him say.

Then John warned the Pharisees. he called them “a brood of vipers!” trying to flee the wrath to come. Barclay suggests John was thinking of the possibility of fire in the desert. A river of flame could sweep across the desert and snakes and scorpions and other creatures could be sent scurrying for their lives. (He called the Pharisees “A brood of Vipers.” Jesus said,  ” do not think you can say ‘ you have Abraham as your father.” And it was Jewish thought that the children of Abraham were safe from the “Wrath to come” simply by being Jews. But they were hedging their bets by coming to John for baptism!

Then came the promise. He said that “One would come to baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” The word for spirit  for the Jews was ruah,  meaning  breath; also meaning wind and, thus, power,  because wind drives ships. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of power.  The Spirit brought truth to God’s people.

And as for the fire, it connotes illumination, warmth, purification.  But there is also a threat.  The winnowing fan on the treshing floor will separate the wheat from the chaff.  In Christianity, there is no escape from the eternal choice.

In John. there is the basic demand: “REPENT!” And that is the basic demand of Jesus himself, “Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).  The Jewish word for repentance is itself interesting teshuba, from the verb shub, which means simply “to turn.”  Repentance is a turning away from evil and a turning towards God.  In Greek, the word is metanoia, and also means to turn around.  Maybe you’ve seen the bumper sticker that says “God allows U-turns.”  Repentance is always available. No case is hopeless for repentance; no one is beyond repentance. The Rabbis said, “Let not a man say, ‘Because I have sinned, no repair is possible for me’ but let him trust in God, and God will receive him.     (Barclay ~ The Gospel of Matthew, Volume 1 pp. 43-58.)

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) ? 

By being our own messenger of Jesus (or Love)

at home, at the office, in my neighborhood,

in our country, in our politics,

in our world  ~ during this coming 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.  

Try it. Be a messenger yourself this week in some little way.

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.)  

And here are today’s Mass readings. Click here.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

 

Advent Day 8 – The Messenger of the Son of God

Second Sunday of Advent

(December 10, 2017)

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.’”

 

Mark starts his story a long way back—not at Jesus’ birth as Luke’s Gospel does; it does not begin with John the Baptist in the wilderness. The Scripture-scholar William Barclay says it began “with the dreams of the prophets long ago; that is to say, it began in the mind of God.”

“It has been said that ‘the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts,’ and so are the thoughts of God. History is not a random kaleidoscope of disconnected events. It is a process directed by the God who sees the end in the beginning

The prophetic quotation Mark uses is suggestive.

I am sending my messenger ahead you; he will prepare your way.

This is from Malachi 3:4. In its original context it was a threat. In Malachi’s day, the priests were failing in their duty. The offerings were blemished and shoddy and second bests. The messenger was to cleanse and purify the worship in the temple before the Anointed One of God emerged on earth. So then the coming of Christ was the purification of life. Seneca called Rome ‘a cesspool of iniquity. Juvenal spoke of her ‘as the filthy sewer into which flowed the abominable dregs of every Syrian and Achaean stream.’

Where Christ is allowed to come the antiseptic of the Christian faith cleanses the moral poison of society and leaves it pure and clean.

John the Baptist came announcing a baptism of repentance. The Jew was familiar with ritual washings. Leviticus 11 -15 details them. Symbolic washing and purifying was woven into the very fabric of Jewish daily ritual.

The Jew knew baptism—as proselytes to Judaism were supposed to undergo it to cleanse them of the pollution of their past life—but the amazing thing about John’s baptism was that he, a Jew, was asking Jews to submit to that which only a Gentile was supposed to need.

Bishop Robert Barron, writing in the December issue of the Magnificat liturgical magazine (p.135), reminds us that John the Baptist was the son of Zechariah, who was a Temple priest. Since the priesthood was passed on from father to son, we must assume that whatever John was doing in the desert had something to do with Temple sacrifice.

When people came to the Temple, they were seeking remission of their sins through the mediation of their priests, but before they could do that they were obliged to undergo a ritual washing called a mikvah.

That’s what John was doing in the desert; he was drawing his followers through a purifying bath and then promising them forgiveness.

But how would that forgiveness happen? In Mark’s Gospel, John says. “One mightier than I is coming after me…..I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (1:7-8). And in John’s Gospel, the Baptist cries, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (1:29). These two statements are functionally equivalent.

John the Baptist was preparing Israel for the arrival of the definitive priest who would perform the final sacrifice by which sins would be wiped away. His water baptism was an anticipation of a fiery immersion by which Israel would be eschatologically purified, that is, for her final survival.

It is worth noting that all four Gospels compels us to approach Jesus through John the Baptist. All four Evangelists realize that we won’t understand what Jesus is doing and what he means without the interpretive key he provides by this strange desert prophet.

Barclay would add a little more description for us. It is clear that John’s ministry was hugely successful; they streamed out into the desert to listen to him and queued up to submit to his baptism. But why such an impact?

First, he was a man who lived his message. Not only his words, but his whole life was a protest against contemporary life.

Between Judea and the Dead Sea was one of the most terrible deserts in the world. It was a limestone desert; the rock is hot and blistering and sounds hollow to the feet. In the Old Testament it is sometimes called Jeshimmon—The Devastation. John was a man from the desert and from its solitudes and its desolations. He was a man who had given himself a chance to hear the voice of God.

In regard to his clothes, he wore a garment woven of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist. So did Elijah (2 Kings 1:8). To look at the man was to be reminded of the prophets of old.

And there was his simple food—locusts and wild honey, the Scriptures tell us. But “locusts” could have been a bean or a nut—the carob–that was the food of the poorest of the poor. And the honey may have been the honey wild bees make orit may be a kind of sweet sap that distills from certain trees.

So John emerged and people had to listen to a person like that. For John, the man was the message. His message was effective because he told people what they knew in their heart of hearts and the depths of their souls they were waiting for.

The Jews had a saying, “If Israel would keep the law of God perfectly for one day, the Kingdom of God would come.”

As the folk queued up to be washed in the River Jordan, they were well aware that for three hundred years the voice of prophecy had been silent. John’s message was effective because he was completely humble. His own verdict on himself was not fit even for the duty of a slave. He said, “I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.” Or as the Gospel of John relates it, “I must decrease; he must increase.”

His message was effective because he pointed to something and someone beyond himself. He told his followers that his baptism drenched them in water, but one was coming who would drench them in the Holy Spirit.

COME LORD JESUS!  

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.)

 And here are today’s Mass readings . . .Click here.

William Barclay / the Daily Study Bible Series / the Gospel of Mark – Revised Edition                                                                  The Westminster Press / Philadelphia 1975 (pp. 13-18)

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

The Messenger of the Son of God

baptist3Second Sunday of Advent~ December 4, 2016

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, very similar to 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.

His message: “Repent,  for the kingdom of God is at hand!”

(Yeah, I know.  You’ve heard that  a zillion times before by street corner prophets.)

In our respectable Sunday assemblies, he would probably be looked upon with scorn;  he was certainly not the kind of guy we would expect to be the Advance Man for the Son of God.  But that’s what he was.  (And we better pay attention to his message – which we’ll do this week – because it is critical for our own times.)

He preached with exuberance and passion and sometimes with fury.  He raged at many of the Pharisees and Sadducees:  “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (And I’m sure they seethed and you can be sure they were out to get him.

He spoke fearlessly, unafraid of what the hypocritical religious leaders might do to him. Eventually Herod had him imprisoned and Herodias, his wife, demanded his head on a platter.

John was a prophet . . .

A voice crying out in the wilderness

Prepare the way of the Lord,

make straight his paths.

In today’s readings we find, Matthew has John saying: 

        One who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy carry his sandals.

        He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire (Mt 3:10-11).

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.

The Presbyterian Scripture scholar William Barclay offers this commentary on this gospel passage.

The Baptist’s message summoned his people to righteousness. He pointed beyond himself. It was the Jewish belief that Elijah would return before the Messiah would come, and he would be the herald of the coming King (Malachi 4:5).  

Then he makes this interesting observation: In ancient times in the East, the roads were bad.  Ordinary roads were no more than tracks. But Solomon built a causeway of black basalt stone that lead to Jerusalem for pilgrims.  They were built by the king and for the king and called “the king’s highway.”

John was preparing the way for the king. The preacher, the teacher with the prophetic voice, points not to himself but to God.

Then John warned the Pharisees. he called them “a brood of vipers!” trying to flee the wrath to come.

Then came the promise. He said he was not fit to carry the sandals of the one who was to come. Carrying sandals was the duty of a slave. John’s whole attitude was self-obliteration.  “He must increase; I must decrease,” John the evangelist would have him say.

He said that One would come to baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire.  The word for spirit  for the Jews was ruah,  meaning  breath; also meaning wind and, thus, power,  because wind drives ships. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of power.  The Spirit brought truth to God’s people.

And as for the fire, it connotes illumination, warmth, purification.  But there is also a threat.  The winnowing fan on the treshing floor will separate the wheat from the chaff.  In Christianity, there is no escape from the eternal choice.

In John. there is the basic demand: “REPENT!” And that is the basic demand of Jesus himself, “Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).  The Jewish word for repentance is itself interesting teshuba, from the verb shub, which means simply “to turn.”  Repentance is a turning away from evil and a turning towards God.  In Greek, the word is metanoia, and also means to turn around.  Maybe you’ve seen the bumper sticker that says “God allows U-turns.”  Repentance is always available. No case is hopeless for repentance; no one is beyond repentance. The Rabbis said, “Let not a man say,’Because I have sinned, no repair is possible for me’ but let him trust in God, and God will receive him.     (Barclay ~ The Gospel of Matthew, Volume 1 pp. 43-58.)

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 home,

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.

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.)  

And here are today’s Mass readings. Click here. 

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

 

Advent Day 9 (Hanukkah Day 2) ~ Where are you going?

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MONDAY OF THE SECOND WEEK OF ADVENT

“Prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!”  Isaiah 40:3

This image was taken on I-95 between Jacksonville and St. Augustine one misty December Sunday morning about 2 AM.  I was living in St. Augustine at the time.

On my way home from “Father Bob’s night out,” I was so taken by the magic of the vista before me I had to pull off and capture it on my Canon Power Shot.

For me, even the interstate can be a place for reflection. . .

I was thinking of John the Baptist’s message that also appeared in last Sunday’s gospel:

“Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight his paths.”

And this was what I wrote back then, inspired by that moment on the side of a highway at 2 AM on a magical / mystical Sunday morning.

Where are we going, Lord?

Every day we’re on a journey that will not be complete until we meet You.

In our daily commutes, stuck in traffic, are we making progress in our spiritual journey, Lord?

Are we making a straight highway in the spiritual wasteland I sometimes think America is today, Lord?

John’s message was one of repentance.

When he said, “make straight his paths,” he meant  to clear a way for the coming of God into our hearts and souls.

Get rid of the roadblocks that stop us from making progress.  Our addictions.  Our resentments. Our selfishness.

If we don’t make an effort to do that, our Christmas will be hollow / empty, Lord.

In all of our pre-Christmas bustle and hustle are we preparing a straight path for you to come
into our hearts, our homes, our workplace, our land, our world this Christmas?

What are we doing, Lord?  Really doing with our lives?

Where is our life’s journey taking us?

What is life really  all about?

I-95 at 2 AM can help us ponder that question.

I realized that was a special moment for me, a moment I seized.

Or rather seized me.

Carpe diem.

Thank you, Lord.

On Monday morning there would be a return to frenzied /  furied  / hurried / unaware / unreflected lives of  many going to and fro and not knowing really where they were going.

Time for a change, dear friend?  Time for a change?

Here’s a video from Godspell: Where are You Going? Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.

And here are today’s Mass readings, if you’d care to reflect on them. Click here.

P. S. Our Jewish friends began their celebration of Hanukkah last evening. If you’d like to know something about their celebration, it’s origin and it’s festivities, here’s a link for you: Click here.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

Advent Day 8 – The Messenger of the Son of God

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 home,

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:

Jesus,

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

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

Advent Day 1 2014 ~ Stay on the Watch! Be prepared!

Dear Friends,
Sunday, November 30th begins the Advent season for the liturgical Christian churches.  Funny enough, we begin at the end ~ thinking about THE END ~ the end of the world.  The early Christians believed Jesus was coming “soon and very soon.” The early generation of Christians thought the end would come soon.  Jerusalem fell in 70 CE but Jesus didn’t come.

The first reading from Isaiah is a wonderful piece of prose . . .

  You have delivered your face from us  and delivered us up to our guilt.

  Yet, O Lord, you are our father; we are the clay and you are the potter: we are all the work or your hands.  (Is. (64 6-7.)

(You can find the entire passage and the other Mass readings by clicking the  link at the bottom of the page.)

 Jesus  admonishes us in today’s gospel (Mk 13:33-37) . . .

“Be watchful! Stay alert!  You do not know when the time will come.  

What I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”

Jesus himself does not know the day nor the hour, only the Father. Be wary of those who claim that the do! We live in the shadow of eternity.  Day by day, we turn to our work and tend to the needs of our family, In time, then, we will be prepared when the Lord decides to take us to himself.  As I learned in third grade when I memorized the catechism question, Why did God make me?  The answer was and is so simple, “to know, love him and serve him in this world and to be happy with in the next.”

Yes, we should be  . . .
prepared / watchful / alert / aware / awake
knowing what’s happening
. . .  but so many of us are asleep, Lord.
We tend to not recognize the signs of the times.
We often dull our senses / stay in our own little worlds,
choosing not to care.

We’re complacent, Lord.
Many don’t want to be bothered pondering or praying about the real issues.
We’re into Cyber Monday bargains and wowed by the latest iphone.

But deep down we are fearful and anxious, caused by threats
. . . of losing our job / having a lump in our breast /
losing health insurance because we lost our job.

Global warming / Ferguson /
corruption on Wall Street and government
the ebola epidemic / ISIS / cyber war.

“Stand erect,” the Gospel says.

Face your fears with courage.
Be strong!
Don’t fear the terror of the night (Psalm 91.)
That’s what Advent faith is all about . . .
Being vigilant.  Being prepared for anything life throws at us.
Standing proudly humble or humbly proud ~ no matter what.

That’s the kind of faith in life ~ in You, my God, that I seek.
I want it. I ask you for it.
Today I consent to it.
Amen.  So be it!

+ + + + +
There will  be fresh blog posts  (God willin’ n’ the creek don’t rise) most every day of Advent till Christmas.

Why not make this Christmas season a special one for you ~ a meaningful one?

Now before you go, here’s a song to get you in an Advent mood from Godspell. Click here – enter full screen and turn up your speakers.  And as Tiny Tim would say, God bless you, everyone.  But that’s getting a little ahead of ourselves.

(Here are today’s Mass Click here.)

With love,
Have a wonderful Advent!
Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

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Advent Day 13 ~ Where are you going?

Advent Day 13 — Where are you going?

THURSDAY OF THE SECOND WEEK OF ADVENT

THE OTHER DAY, I PROMISED YOU A LINK TO “THE STORY OF ADVENT”  THAT GIVES ITS HISTORY AND THE 7 THEMES OF THIS BLOG.    I APOLOGIZE; I GOOFED.  HERE IT IS NOW.   (FOR THOSE WHO AREN’T TECH SAVVY, AT THE TOP LEFT CORNER OF YOUR COMPUTER IS A LITTLE ARROW POINTING LEFT.  CLICK ON IT, AND IT WILL RETURN YOU TO THIS PAGE AFTER YOU READ “THE STORY OF ADVENT.”   CLICK HERE. 

“PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD! MAKE STRAIGHT IN THE WASTELAND A HIGHWAY FOR OUR GOD!”  ISAIAH 40:3

THIS IMAGE WAS TAKEN ON I-95 BETWEEN ST. AUGUSTINE AND JACKSONVILLE ONE MISTY DECEMBER SUNDAY MORNING ABOUT 2 AM.  I WAS LIVING IN ST. AUGUSTINE AT THE TIME.  (MY BISHOP, WHOM I WAS SURPRISED WAS CHECKING OUT MY BLOG, QUIPPED:  “WHAT WERE YOU DOING OUT AT 2 AM?  I WAS BEMUSED BY HIS COMMENT AND ALSO THAT I HAD CAPTURED A BUSY BISHOP AS A READER — IF JUST FOR A MOMENT.)

ON MY WAY HOME FROM “FATHER BOB’S NIGHT OUT,” I WAS SO TAKEN BY THE MAGIC OF THE VISTA BEFORE ME I HAD TO PULL OFF AND CAPTURE IT ON MY CANONPOWER SHOT.

FOR ME, EVEN THE INTERSTATE CAN BE A PLACE FOR REFLECTION. . .

I WAS THINKING OF JOHN THE BAPTIST’S MESSAGE THAT ALSO APPEARED IN YESTERDAY’S GOSPEL:

“PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD; MAKE STRAIGHT HIS PATHS.”

AND THIS WAS WHAT I WROTE THREE YEARS AGO, INSPIRED BY THAT MOMENT ON THE SIDE OF A HIGHWAY AT 2 AM ON A MAGICAL / MYSTICAL SUNDAY MORNING.

WHERE ARE WE GOING, LORD?

EVERY DAY WE’RE ON A JOURNEY THAT WILL NOT BE COMPLETE UNTIL WE MEET YOU.

IN OUR DAILY COMMUTES, STUCK IN TRAFFIC, ARE WE MAKING PROGRESS IN OUR SPIRITUAL JOURNEY, LORD?

ARE WE MAKING A STRAIGHT HIGHWAY IN THE SPIRITUAL WASTELAND I SOMETIMES THINK AMERICA IS TODAY, LORD.

JOHN’S MESSAGE WAS ONE OF REPENTANCE.

WHEN HE SAID, “MAKE STRAIGHT HIS PATHS,” HE MEANT  TO CLEAR A WAY FOR THE COMING OF GOD INTO OUR HEART AND SOUL.

GET RID OF THE ROADBLOCKS THAT STOP US FROM MAKING PROGRESS.  OUR ADDICTIONS.  OUR RESENTMENTS. OUR SELFISHNESS.

IF WE DON’T MAKE AN EFFORT TO DO THAT, OUR CHRISTMAS WILL BE HOLLOW / EMPTY, LORD.

IN ALL OF OUR PRE-CHRISTMAS BUSTLE AND HUSTLE ARE WE PREPARING A STRAIGHT PATH FOR YOU TO COME
INTO OUR HEARTS, OUR HOMES, OUR WORKPLACE, OUR LAND, OUR WORLD THIS CHRISTMAS?

WHAT ARE WE DOING, LORD?  REALLY DOING WITH OUR LIVES?

WHERE IS OUR LIFE’S JOURNEY TAKING US?

WHAT IS LIFE REALLY  ALL ABOUT?

I-95 AT 2 AM CAN HELP US PONDER THAT QUESTION.

I REALIZED THAT WAS A SPECIAL MOMENT FOR ME; A MOMENT I SEIZED.

OR RATHER SEIZED ME.

CARPE DIEM.

THANK YOU, LORD.

ON MONDAY MORNING THERE WOULD BE A RETURN TO FRENZIED /  FURIED  / HURRIED / UNAWARE / UNREFLECTED LIVES OF  MANY GOING TO AND FRO AND NOT KNOW REALLY WHERE THEY’RE GOING.

TIME FOR A CHANGE, DEAR FRIEND?  TIME FOR A CHANGE?

HERE’S ANOTHER VIDEO FROM GODSPELL:  P. S. BE AWARE THERE ARE SOME AMONG US WHO FIND HOLIDAYS A TIME OF DREAD AND LONELINESS.    PEOPLE WHO’VE LOST A LOVED ONE.  FAMILIES THAT ARE BROKEN. CHILDREN WHO CAN’T BE WITH BOTHPARENTS FOR CHRISTMAS.  FAMILES WITH PARENTS IN THE MILITARY.  KEEP THEM IN YOUR PRAYER.  AND IF YOU KNOW ONE OF THEM, GIVE THEM A CALL OR INVITE THEM FOR CHRISTMAS DINNER.  BEFORE YOU GO, HERE’S A SONG FROM GODSPELL, “WERE ARE YOU GOING? / BY MY SIDE.  CLICK HERE.

WITH LOVE,

BOB TRAUPMAN

CONTEMPLATIVE WRITER

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Advent Day 8 – Jesus’ wild and wooly advance man

Second Sunday of Advent

(For the Mass readings Click here.  Then click on the little arrow to the left on the top left of your screen to return to this page.)

He probably looked like someone from the cast of Hair or a hippie.

He lived in the wild in the desert of Judea.

He wore clothing made of camel’s hair, which I’m sure was – um — uncomfortable in the desert’s heat.  (He was probably pretty stinky.)

His scrumptious diet locusts and wild honey. (yuck!)

His message was: “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand!”

(Yeah, I know.  I’ve heard that message a zillion times.)

In our – um – respectable Sunday assemblies, he would probably be looked upon with scorn;  he was certainly not the kind of guy we would expect to be the Advance Man for the Son of God.  But that’s what he was.  (And we better pay attention to his message – which we’ll do this week – because it is critical for our own times.)

He was Jesus’ cousin, born only a few months before the Lord.  The pair may have played together as kids.  And John, must have gotten to know Jesus well enough to  perceive what his role would be in history.  As a result, he preached with exuberance and passion and sometimes with fury.  He raged at many of the Pharisees and Sadducees:  “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (And I’m sure they seethed and were out to get him.

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.

John was a prophet . . .

A voice crying out in the wilderness

Prepare the way of the Lord,

make straight his paths.

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 home,

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.

Right now, there’s a lot of hatred going around.

There are hate groups all over our country.  Over 900 documented armed hate groups.

Our country could be in flames.  All it might take is a spark to set it off.

People I know are seething that a Black man is president.

And then there’s hatred toward Muslims.  I have Muslim friends.  They are devout and wonderful people.

There’s hatred toward gay people.  I have gay friends.  And they’re as decent and often as devout as those who sit in the front pews of our churches.

We have lots of need to repent.

What do you do, dear reader?

Is there hatred or love in your heart?

If we hate even one person, we cause hate to have its sway anywhere.

And the opposite is true as well — if we love one sacrificially, love enters the world in a powerful waay.

Do you spread hate and incivility?

Or love and “random acts of kindness?

AA has us take “Personal Inventory of ourselves.”

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.

Your 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.  (Hanukkah began last evening, by the way. So if you have Jewish friends, wish them a Happy Hanukkah.)

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 presencerather than presents.

One day, as I was taking my groceries to the car I smiled at an older woman who was poorly dressed and who seemed troubled.  Her name was Sylvia, an immigrant from one of the islands.  She called after me and I took the time to listen to her, thereby allowing her to be recognized as a person, if just for a moment.  I prayed that God would send her an angel to help with some serious problems.  She said to me: “You are my angel!”  Perhaps I was.  Perhaps I was the instrument of grace to turn her life around.  You never know.

Think about preparing to  receive the grace of the sacrament of penance; it’s still a wonderful way to honor your Lord and Savior at his birthday.)

And now, here’s my personal prayer on this Second Sunday of Advent:

Jesus,

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!

Now, listen and watch Prepare the Way of the Lord  from Godspell Click here. (Get a chuckle out of Jesus 1973 ‘Fro.)

This week we’ll reflect on what Jesus’ wild and wooly advance man has to say to us and our times.  You might want to look up the following scripture references over the next 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

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

Advent Day 9 — Where are you going?

“Prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!”  Isaiah 40:3

This image was taken on I-95 between St. Augustine and Jacksonville one misty December Sunday morning about 2 AM.  I was living in St. Augustine at the time.  (My bishop, whom I was surprised was checking out my blog, quipped:  “What were you doing out at 2 AM?  I was bemused by his comment and also that I had captured a busy bishop as a reader — if just for a moment.)

On my way home from “Father Bob’s night out,” I was so taken by the magic of the vista before me I had to pull off and capture it on my Canon Power Shot.

For me, even the interstate can be a place for reflection. . .

I was thinking of John the Baptist’s message that also appeared in yesterday’s gospel:

“Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight his paths.”

And this was what I wrote three years ago, inspired by that moment on the side of a highway at 2 AM on a magical / mystical Sunday morning.

Where are we going, Lord?

Every day we’re on a journey that will not be complete until we meet You.

In our daily commutes, stuck in traffic, are we making progress in our spiritual journey, Lord?

Are we making a straight highway in the spiritual wasteland I sometimes think America is today, Lord.

John’s message was one of repentance.

When he said, “make straight his paths,” he meant  to clear a way for the coming of God into our heart and soul.

Get rid of the roadblocks that stop us from making progress.  Our addictions.  Our resentments. Our selfishness.

If we don’t make an effort to do that, our Christmas will be hollow / empty, Lord.

In all of our pre-Christmas bustle and hustle are we preparing a straight path for you to come
into our hearts, our homes, our workplace, our land, our world this Christmas?

What are we doing, Lord?  Really doing with our lives?

Where is our life’s journey taking us?

What is life really  all about?

I-95 at 2 am can help us ponder that question.

I realized that was a special moment for me; a moment I seized.

Or rather seized me.

Carpe diem.

Thank you, Lord.

On Monday morning there would be a return to frenzied /  furied  / hurried / unaware / unreflected lives of  many going to and fro and not know really where they’re going.

Time for a change, dear friend?  Time for a change?

Here’s another video from Godspell:  Where are You going?  

It’s a Great song.  Be sure to enter full Screen and turn up your speakers.

P. S. Be aware there are some among us who find holidays a time of dread and loneliness.    People who’ve lost a loved one.  Families that are broken. Children who can’t be with both parents for Christmas.  Familes with parents in the military.  Keep them in your prayer.  And if you know one of them, give them a call or invite them for Christmas dinner.

With love,

Bob Traupman

Contemplative Writer

Advent Day 8 – Jesus’ wild and wooly advance man

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Second Sunday of Advent

He probably looked like someone from the cast of the old musical Hair or a hippie.

He lived in the wild in the desert of Judea.

He wore clothing made of camel’s hair, which I’m sure was – um – uncomfortable in the desert’s heat.  (He was probably pretty stinky.)

His scrumptious diet was locusts and wild honey ~yuck!

His message: “Repent,  for the kingdom of God is at hand!”

(Yeah, I know.  You’ve heard that  a zillion times before by street corner prophets.)

In our – um – respectable Sunday assemblies, he would probably be looked upon with scorn;  he was certainly not the kind of guy we would expect to be the Advance Man for the Son of God.  But that’s what he was.  (And we better pay attention to his message – which we’ll do this week – because it is critical for our own times.)

He was Jesus’ cousin, born only a few months before the Lord.  The pair may have played together as kids.  And John, must have gotten to know Jesus well enough to  perceive what his role would be in history.

As a result, he preached with exuberance and passion and sometimes with fury.  He raged at many of the Pharisees and Sadducees:  “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (And I’m sure they seethed and you can be sure they were out to get him.

He spoke fearlessly, unafraid of what the hypocritical religious leaders might do to him. Eventually Herod had him imprisoned and Herodias, his wife, demanded his head on a platter.

John was a prophet . . .

A voice crying out in the wilderness

Prepare the way of the Lord,

make straight his paths.

In today’s readings we find, Mark beginning his Gospel with the story of of John the Baptist.  He points the way to Jesus when he says: 

        One mightier than I is coming after me.  […]

        I have baptized you with water;

        he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit  (Mark 1:7-8).

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, if you do not  share our  Christian faith,)

at home,

at the office,

in your 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.

Right now, there’s a lot of hatred going around.

There are hate groups all over our country.  Over 900 documented armed hate groups.

Our country could be in flames.  All it might take is a spark to set it off.

There’s hatred toward Muslims.  I have Muslim friends.  They are devout and wonderful people.

There’s hatred toward gay people.  I have gay friends.  And they’re as decent and often as devout as those who sit in the front pews of our churches.

Some of our kids suffer from bullying ~ even to the point of committing suicide.

Yes, indeed! We have lots of need to repent.

How ’bout you, dear reader?

Is there hatred or love in your heart?

If we hate even one person, we cause hate to have its sway anywhere.

And the opposite is true as well — if we love one person sacrificially, love enters the world in a powerful way.

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 frivolous, expensive gift-giving.

Celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah by being kinder, gentler, cheerier.

Hold the door open for the folks behind you when you enter a store.  Smile!

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.

Recently, as I was taking my groceries to the car I smiled at an older woman who was poorly dressed and who seemed troubled.  Her name was Sylvia, an immigrant from one of the islands.  She called after me and I took the time to listen to her, thereby allowing her to be recognized as a person, if just for a moment.  I stopped to pray with her a moment that God would send her an angel to help with a serious problem.  She said to me: “You are my angel!”  Perhaps I was.  Perhaps I was the instrument of grace to turn her life around.  You never know.

Your children don’t need lots of stuff ~ especially stuff that makes a lot of noise!   (We’ll get to the need for silence in our lives in a few days.)

And now, here’s my personal prayer on this Second Sunday of Advent:

Jesus,

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 / guys in jail / those dying /

grieving / celebrating / becoming Catholic / non-believers /

gay / parishioners / mentally ill / neighbors /  friends / strangers.

What an honor, what a 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 through my written word or in person realize they, too, can prepare the way for you in our troubled world.

Come, Lord Jesus!  

You might also might like to look over the Mass readings for today. Click here.   (Hint: To get back to this page (if your not tech Savvy) at the very top left or your computer you’ll see the word “back”; above it is an (<). Click on it and voila! it will bring you right back to this page and . . .

Now, listen and watch Prepare the way of the Lord from Godspell. (Get a chuckle out of Jesus 1973 ‘Fro.’) Be sure to enter full screen.

Your light will come dear people of God;

the Lord will dawn on you in radiant beauty.

You will see his glory within YOU!

The Lord will dawn on you in radiant beauty.

                  ~ the Advent Liturgy.

This week we’ll reflect on what Jesus’ wild and wooly advance man has to say to us and our times.  You might want to look up the following scripture references over the next 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

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer