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Second Sunday of Advent
The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He fed on locusts and wild honey. And this is what he proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Opening Prayer: Lord God, inspire in me the joy of anticipating the coming of your Son. Take from me the fear of desert sands and hard repentance. I will go into the wilderness with you if you want me to. I ask you for this baptism in the Holy Spirit, an outpouring of grace in preparation for your birth!
- John the Ascetic: The exercise of asceticism feels more appropriate to Lent than to Advent, but the messenger of Christ’s coming is his relative John, a desert-dweller girded in rough camel’s hair. He wore a crude leather belt, lived far from the city, and satisfied his stomach with locusts. And most importantly, he baptized with a baptism of repentance. John was the ascetic par excellence, and it was he who prepared the way of the Lord. We can learn from his spartan lifestyle. Simplicity and sacrifice lead to the necessary repentance of Advent. If we’re able to become a little more humble like John the Baptist, who said, “I am not worthy,” we will be most ready for the coming of the Christ-child.
- The Start of Something Good: Who was John the Baptist? He was the messenger chosen by God. He was the voice of one crying out in a world where it is so easy to remain silent! John was a particular man with a personal mission, but he would not see the fullness of the salvation he hoped for—he was beheaded first. John the Baptist was a prophet not distracted by popularity. He looked forward to the coming of the Holy Spirit. By continuing to shout, cry out, proclaim, and lead people to repentance, he became in a way “the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
- Sweet Eucharist: What was John’s sustenance in the wilderness? “He fed on locusts and wild honey.” We have associated the locusts with self-denial and ascetic practice, and we can also draw a comparison between the wild honey and the Eucharist. If self-denial means taking something out of our lives, then it creates space for something else to be added, space for God. He would be delighted, for example, if we created more time for eucharistic adoration this Advent. This is the purest bread of life which gives us the strength to wander in the desert of this world without growing weary. Far from growing weary, in fact, we “cry out” words of the Gospel and “prepare the way of the Lord” by our good example. Let’s feed on the wild honey of the Eucharist.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus Christ, I believe you are truly present in the most holy sacrament of the altar. I bless your sweet name for such a tremendous gift, which even your cousin John didn’t have! I want to flee from the city and lights–at least interiorly–so I can ready my poor stable of a heart for you and Mary and Joseph this Christmas.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will take some time to reflect on the sources of my spiritual nourishment and assess whether I have what I need to go into the desert with Christ.
For Further Reflection: Listen to the first sections of Handel’s Messiah. The Messiah is coming!
Written by Br. Erik Burckel, LC.
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