Gospel Reflection | Second Sunday of Advent

Reading 1

IS 40:1-5, 9-11

Comfort, give comfort to my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
that her service is at an end,
her guilt is expiated;
indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD
double for all her sins.
A voice cries out:
In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill shall be made low;
the rugged land shall be made a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together;
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
Go up on to a high mountain,
Zion, herald of glad tidings;
cry out at the top of your voice,
Jerusalem, herald of good news!
Fear not to cry out
and say to the cities of Judah:
Here is your God!
Here comes with power
the Lord GOD,
who rules by his strong arm;
here is his reward with him,
his recompense before him.
Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
in his arms he gathers the lambs,
carrying them in his bosom,
and leading the ewes with care.


MK 1:1-8

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.
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.”
John the Baptist appeared in the desert
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
People of the whole Judean countryside
and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem
were going out to him
and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River
as they acknowledged their sins.
John was clothed in camel’s hair,
with a leather belt around his waist.
He fed on locusts and wild honey.
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.”


Today’s readings speak to us about the life of John the Baptist and the hope he gives us in Jesus, the fulfillment of the promises made by God to the people of Israel.

In the First Reading, Isaiah prophesies of the coming of John the Baptist, who would cry out in the desert to prepare the hearts of the people for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Isaiah promises the people of Israel that the time of mercy is now near. Jesus, with his life, death, and resurrection would forgive their sins and expiate their guilt.

The Gospel invites us to look further at the life of John the Baptist. A rugged figure, dressed in camel's hair and feeding on locusts and wild honey, embodying a stark contrast to the opulence of the religious elite of the time. He lived in the wilderness, a place of solitude and reflection where he prepared to present Jesus, no longer just as his cousin, but as the awaited Messiah.

John baptized with water, a symbolic act of repentance. This was a way for people to publicly acknowledge their sins, turn away from them, and prepare their hearts to welcome the Messiah. However, John's baptism did not have the power to forgive sins or bestow the Holy Spirit upon the baptized. He makes it clear that his baptism is a prelude to something greater – the baptism with the Holy Spirit that Jesus would bring.

Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit, which means that through His baptism, we are not only cleansed from our sins but also receive the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, who guides, empowers, and sanctifies us in our Christian journey. This baptism is a source of spiritual renewal and enables us to live a life rooted in the grace and power of the Holy Spirit.

As we reflect on John's proclamation and his call to repentance, we are invited to consider our own spiritual journey during this Advent season. Are there areas of our lives that need transformation? The urgency in John's message reminds us that the day of the Lord will come like a thief. Preparing for Christ requires a conscious and constant turning away from the distractions and sins that hinder our communion with God.

Moreover, the humility of John, who acknowledges his unworthiness to even untie the sandals of the coming Messiah, teaches us about the essence of true discipleship – serving humbly and recognizing our dependence on Him. During this Advent season, may we imitate John's humility and prepare our hearts for the arrival of Christ, serving others with a selfless spirit and acknowledging our continual dependence on the grace and guidance of our Lord.

Please be assured of my prayers before Our Lord, present in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

+ Bishop Schlert


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