Gospel Reflection for the 2nd Sunday of Advent Year C – December 6th 2015
In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar’s reign, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judaea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of the lands of Ituraea and Trachonitis, Lysanias tetrach of Abilene, during the pontificate of Annas and Caiaphas the word of God came to John son of Zechariah, in the wilderness. He went through the whole Jordan district proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the sayings of the prophet Isaiah:
A voice cries in the wilderness:
Prepare a way for the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley will be filled in,
every mountain and hill be laid low,
winding ways will be straightened
and rough roads made smooth.
And all mankind shall see the salvation of God.
An ordinary way of marking a change or a big day is to wear new clothes – wedding clothes, the vestments at ordination, the new school uniform. John the Baptist is introducing the new life of Jesus, and he dresses differently. Like at baptism we robe the child in the baptismal garment, with the joy of something new. This is the gift of Jesus.
GIFT AND CHALLENGE
Receiving a gift is a sort of challenge to change. We don’t know what it might be; it says something intimate to us; our life is different – something new has arrived. A present of a lawnmower means I might have to cut the grass! We may not always want to accept – a friend of mine gave me the money for a book once which I meant as a gift. He felt beholden to the giver, not like just responding in thanks or in love – and we are gifted in love by God. He wants us to take the gift of his Son – and not feel obliged forever. But gifts do change our lives!
The Christmas gift is a person – the Son of God, Jesus the Son of Mary. The one who lives our life, dies our death and is raised from death. This gift is the centre of the church and brings with it our hope in Jesus.
CHRIST AT THE CENTRE
All of us can find Christ at the centre in different ways – in friendships and marriages we share love and live in real love; In our time of prayer we give time to Christ. He is at the centre and with him are the central people and concerns of our lives.
And of the church. The time has come for a humble leadership in a community based church where all, particularly women, have a much greater say. The gift of Advent is both a comfort and a challenge to our lives and communities of faith.
Donal Neary SJ
Fr Donal Neary SJ is editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger