We are at the halfway mark of the season of Advent. This Sunday is called “Guadete” Sunday meaning “Rejoice” after the theme of the first and second readings. The liturgical colour today is Rose, a rare sight indeed in our Liturgy. The liturgical sense is to capture the “spirit of joy” that heralds the coming of Jesus.
In the year of Mark’s Gospel we return to John the Baptist. But Mark is brief about the Baptist and all that he writes was considered last week. The liturgy today gives us two parts of the first chapter of John, the great prologue.
“A man came sent by God, his name was John.” After John introduces the “word made flesh” eternal and consubstantial, John introduces us to the Baptist. “He came as a witness, as a witness to speak for the light, so that everyone might believe through him”. John in his Gospel speaks much about the Baptist. He is a great pains to show that John was not the light. John still had great numbers of followers at that time and a few even till today. John is questioned about his identity and proclaims: “ I am, as Isaiah prophesied, a voice that cries in the wilderness: make a straight way for the Lord”.
This passage is shortened considerably. There are eleven verses missing! One section has John proclaiming that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
I enclose a summary of John in the scriptures with references for the studious.
Called "the Baptist," this John was born when Zechariah and Elizabeth, his parents, were already old. His mother was a relative of Mary, Jesus’s mother, making John a cousin of Jesus. Although descended from long lines of priests through both his mother and father, John the Baptist followed the role of the prophet, retreating into the desert (perhaps in response to the death of his aged parents), reflecting on the unfaithfulness of his people, and emerging to preach a compelling message of repentance. He probably had some associations with the Essene community; in any case John, like the Essenes, was ascetic and insisted upon self-immersion to signify cleansing from sin. His manner reminded everyone of the earlier prophets, and stirred the population deeply. Most startling, however, was his announcement that God's message was about to come, and that the hour of judgment was upon the people. Another was to follow him, John announced, who would bring in the new era. John was particularly harsh on the religious authorities for their failure to repent. Great crowds were baptized in the Jordan, among them Jesus. It was not until later, however, that John understood that Jesus was the promised deliverer. He continued his stern preaching until he was arrested by Herod Antipas for daring to denounce the scandalous royal marriage. John the Baptist was beheaded by Antipas, but his influence survived for years. Some of his followers joined Jesus; others continued to revere him. He was the last of the prophets and the forerunner of the Saviour, and, according to Jesus, the greatest man born to woman.
MATTHEW 3; 4:12; 9:14; 11:2-18; 14:2-10; 16:14; 17:13; 21:25-32; MARK 1:4-14; 2:18; 6:14-28; 11:27-32; LUKE 1:13-63; 3:2-20; 7:18-33; 9:7-19; 11:1; 16:16; 20:4-6; JOHN 1:6-40; 3:23-27; 4:1; 5:33-36; 10:40-41; ACTS 1:5-22; 10:37; 11:16; 13:24-25; 18:25; 19:3-4