God’s gentle guidance
Gospel Reflection for the 2nd Sunday of Advent – December 8th 2013
Full scripture for this Sunday is available on the Catholic Ireland website. Daily Scripture is also available. Our parish Prayers of the Faithful for this Sunday are made available on the Dublin Diocesan website.
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. His winnowing-fan is in his hand; he will clear his threshing-floor and gather his wheat into the barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out.’
Before the motorways a journey took ages with twists and turns, corners and hills. Now much has been made straight.
John ‘s message was about making straight paths in the heart and in our lives, that we could live where where words and actions match; where kindness matches convictions.
John the Baptist was a man on one mission – to be the messenger. Of the one he did not know. His life had a vision and a purpose like when we are really committed to people or to causes or to the poor or peace in the world. John was the man of the desert food and desert dress; he took time out to find what was the biggest thing in life, and then kept following it, often not knowing where it would go.
The human heart is complicated and we know that. We need that one who will invade our hearts with love, with forgiveness and guide us himself in ways that are straight and whose hand will guide us when we need it. God’s guiding is gentle. John found that Jesus was a more gentle guide, no name-calling, no bringing the axe to the tree..but calling each of us his friend, and nourishing the tree rather than cutting it down.
Jesus would melt the snow to make a path, not hack at it and destroy in the process. Melted snow means the snow is gone, hacked snow never goes fully! Our hearts can be melted by the love of God and love of others.
Lord God, make our hearts like yours.
Donal Neary SJ