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Second Sunday of Advent

December 8, 2018

Alleluia, Alleluia.

Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths;

All flesh shall see the salvation of God.

Alleluia, Alleluia.

 

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Saint Luke 3: 1-6

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.


John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:


A voice of one crying out in the desert:
Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

The Gospel of the Lord

REFLECTION by Monsignor Joseph T. Marino

Many parishes introduce this  Sunday’s Masses with the following verses from the 17th century hymn, On Jordan’s Bank:

            On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry announces that the Lord is nigh;

            Awake and hearken for he brings Glad tidings of the King of Kings.

            Then cleanse be every soul from sin; make straight the way of God                      within;

            Prepare we in our hearts a home where such a mighty guest may come.

The hymn prepares us for the Gospel according to Saint Luke who identifies John the Baptist as: A voice of one crying out in the desert.   We are told that it is in the desert that God’s saving presence was proclaimed by John.  It was not in the palaces of important and lofty people that the voice was heard.  It was not in the midst of the noisy business of the market place that the voice was heard.  It is not on the busy sidewalks of the city dressed in holiday style, as the Christmas Carol claims, that the Voice cries out and the Word is heard!   The voice of John the Baptist and the Word of God, Jesus Christ, can only be heard in the desert of the heart!

Jesus Christ is the Word of God and John the Baptist is only the voice.  However, the voice of every disciple is valuable because it boldly proclaims a way of preparation for God and His Word.  It is only in the way of an open heart that mighty Godly deeds can take place.  When one’s heart embraces Jesus and His Gospel, the way is prepared for the power of God to be released … and so:

            -the morally crooked can become straight, and sin can be forgiven;

            -the valleys of the down hearted can be filled with hope;

            -the mountain heights of the proud can be humbled;

            -the wayward can find direction and purpose;

            -the roughed-up and broken of life, the sick and the helpless can be                       healed and  granted peace.

In the fullness of time, Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, and was baptized by John.  The Father’s voice superseded the Baptist’s voice: This is my beloved Son, listen to him!   The Father reveals His Son as His Word made Flesh – the Word we must listen to!  In the desert of the human heart, in the dryness of human existence the divine Word is still heard by those who have the courage to leave behind the secularized and commercialized holiday, and to enter the desert quiet of Advent!

Saint Anselm, in his work, the Desire for the vision of God writes: Insignificant man, escape from your everyday business for a short while, hide for a moment from your restless thoughts. Break off from your cares and troubles and be less concerned about your tasks and labors. Make a little time for God and rest a while in him.  Enter into your mind’s inner chamber. Shut out everything but God and whatever helps you to seek him; and when you have shut the door, look for him. Speak now to God and say with your whole heart: I seek your face; your face, Lord, I desire. Lord, my God, teach my heart where and how to seek you; where and how to find you.

What valuable and beautiful words from Bishop Anselm.  With God’s help may we heed his advice this Advent and listen to the Word of God.  So, look for the passages concerning Jesus’ birth in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and listen to the Word of God.   Sit silently before the manger, and ponder His love for you. 

Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life; Christ is the healing and mercy of God; Jesus is the Savior.  In this WAY: All flesh shall see the salvation of God!

Prosit,

Monsignor Joseph Marino

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