Gospel Reflection for the 2nd Sunday of Advent Year A – December 4th 2016
In due course John the Baptist appeared; he preached in the wilderness of Judaea and this was his message: ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand’. This was the man the prophet Isaiah spoke of when he said:
A voice cries in the wilderness:
Prepare a way for the Lord,
make his paths straight.
This man John wore a garment made of camel-hair with a leather belt round his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judaea and the whole Jordan district made their way to him, and as they were baptised by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins. But when he saw a number of Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism he said to them, ‘Brood of vipers, who warned you to fly from the retribution that is coming? But if you are repentant, produce the appropriate fruit, and do not presume to tell yourselves, “We have Abraham for our father”, because, I tell you, God can raise children for Abraham from these stones. Even now the axe is laid to the roots of the trees, so that any tree which fails to produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown on the fire. I baptise you in water for repentance, but the one who follows me is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to carry his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
John highlights two groups, who while committed to religion, missed some of what is true religion: Pharisees and Sadducees. Since these were also hostile to each other, he presents the way of Jesus as totally new, in contrast to high religious ritual of the day of all various groups.
John was a man who knew opposition to himself, and would eventually be martyred. There can be opposition to the way of Jesus in small and big ways. Disaffection with the church and a creeping sort of unbelief is a reality of our times. When we find ourselves in mood like this, and it can hit all of us, we may look for some ways that bring us into contact with God, the Divine, and Jesus in our lives.
We can notice our desire for God when at times he is missing in our lives. This is a good desire. We can notice the goodness in ourselves like generosity, compassion, love and care for the poor and see all as coming from God, maybe with and through many others. We can be grateful what is good in our lives – love in our lives.
We can also look back to good memories of religion and God. These are still operative. We can hope to find like-minded people with whom we can share realistic faith and practice of our faith. We can pray also for the gift of a strong faith.
This may be a grace of Advent. The call of John the Baptist is to throw off what is negative in our lives and welcome the ‘one who is to come’.
Lord, welcome into the world which needs your message so badly!
Donal Neary SJ
Fr Donal Neary SJ is editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger
Gospel Reflections for Sundays of Year A: Matthew, Messenger Publications 2016, €9.99
Order online at www.messenger.ie, or in Veritas and other booksellers.