Reflections for the Week
The Journey Continues
Here we are in the second Sunday of Advent on our journey to Christmas.
This year, and more, has been a very challenging time for all of us. Economically, physically and socially we have been much challenged by the Covid crisis. Advent gives us an opportunity to not only look forward, but also to reflect on our position in the journey of life. The Covid crisis has allowed us a unique opportunity to see ourselves as we really are: very vulnerable travellers on the journey of life. It has shaken our complacency, but it has also given us the opportunity to explore a dangerous situation and find solutions: this is what humans do. If that is true in the physical side of our life, it is even truer in our spiritual journey. We are neither complete, nor are we capable of alone bringing our potential to its fulfilment. This is the wonder of our faith in that it gives us a way forward. But again, as humans (and how often have I expressed this) we always have choices. The complacency that has been shattered in our social and economic life has forced us to rethink the extent of our own competency, and how much we depend on others, just to survive. That is paralleled in our spiritual journey. This is what Advent is all about: it is the preparation for the coming of someone who can understand our predicaments and provide us with the solutions: he is Jesus, Son of Mary and thus a human being, but he is also Son of God, and therefore divine. He alone can show us the way forward as he walks our path. So we eagerly look forward to Christmas as the solution to the challenges of our past: physical and spiritual. It is our Faith, and Faith alone, that fully explains our life. Again, how wonderful it is to belong.
The Voice in the Desert
Before the start of Jesus’ public ministry, there is the “Baptist’s movement” revolving around the person and ministry of Yehohanan (John), the son of the priest Zechariah. John appears in the region of the Jordan, calling people to repent and baptising them in the Jordan River as a sign of their repentance. Baptism appears as a unique activity of John, a prophetic sign so striking that he becomes known simply as Ha-Matevil, “the Baptiser.”
Though son of a priest, John is not trained for the priestly ministry in the Jerusalem Temple. He grows up in the desert, distancing himself from the luxury in which the Jerusalem priestly aristocracy lives. By his attire, diet, and preaching, John presents himself more as a prophet than as a priest. He shows himself as the embodiment of the fiery prophet Elijah.
In the Gospel, John is presented as “a voice of one crying out in the desert,” as described in the book of Isaiah (cf 40:3-5). The original oracle was addressed to the Jewish exiles in Babylon, and it spoke of a “second exodus,” of the Lord saving his people, leading them out of a foreign land. Luke now speaks of salvation brought about by Jesus; John is the voice announcing Jesus’ coming. The quotation from Isaiah is expanded to include :”all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” Luke, who writes for the Gentiles, says that salvation is not for the Jews alone but for all peoples.
John is a “new Testament” figure that has attracted the attention of the Jewish historian Josephus. He describes John as a good man who commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as righteousness towards one another and as piety towards God. Many people came to him because they were greatly moved by his words.
The baptism of John is seen as a purification rite to prepare for the coming of Jesus. On this Second Sunday of Advent, his words resound to call us to make a straight path for Jesus, the Messiah and Lord.
365 Days with the Lord Fr Gil Alinsangan SSP
Fullness of Time
The fullness of time has come, and every human being will see salvation. Luke insists on the universal extension of the Gospel and of salvation. The images of liberation, joy and glory are typical of Advent. They are meant to renew our hope. The prophetic promises are being fulfilled, opening for us the prospect of universal salvation.
For love of his creatures, God submits to time and adjusts himself to its needs, and intervenes in a decided, organised and prepared manner from all eternity by his providence. In that moment which was the “fullness of time” the word of revelation comes to John in the desert. This revelation is God’s initiative and not man’s who can only await and invoke in adoration the mercy of God.
John preaches repentance for the remission of sins, because sin is the only obstacle to the manifestation of salvation. He preaches that it is necessary for all to repent and be converted. The way of repentance which John preached is in fact the way of God for humans, and those who follow that way will find Jesus and the salvation he brings. If we do not “see” salvation which is universal, it is because our hearts, closed in the hardness of pride, are not “broken” in sorrow and repentance in order to welcome forgiveness and salvation, and to transmit to people the joy of being forgiven sinners whom the merciful love of God has redeemed.
God’s Word Fr George Kaitholil SSP
And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the ancients, and about the living creatures; and they fell before the throne upon their faces, and adored God, saying: “Amen. Benediction and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, honour, and power, and strength to our God forever and ever. Amen." (Apocalypse 7:11-12)
Adoration is held on each Saturday of Advent in the Prayer Room, from 9:30am to Benediction at 4:30pm. All welcome!
Fr Bill's Thoughts