Prepare for the God of all ages!

The hustle and bustle that accompany the celebration of Christmas often deprives us of the hidden miracle of Advent.

Dec 03, 2021

We are called to repent, to prepare a way for the Lord.

                    Reflecting on our Sunday Readings with Fr Christopher W. Soosaipillai

2nd Sunday of Advent (C)

Readings: Baruch 5:1-9; Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11;
Gospel: Luke 3:1-6

New things usually energise us. Just the thought of new blessings coming our way brings a miraculous energy of healing. As we prepare for Christmas and moving here and there, however, our joy and anticipation comes from the old and familiar; colours and decors, Christmas tunes and carols, figures of the first nativity scene – the Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the Magi, and the shepherds. Perusing the life of John the Baptist, the prophet of the preparatory time called Advent, enkindles our faith, hope and charity.

The hustle and bustle that accompany the celebration of Christmas often deprives us of the hidden miracle of Advent. We tend to clip this liturgical season into a much anticipated and prolonged Christmas. If we take the time to reflect and pray, however, we realise that the liturgy of the Word invites us to consider the greatest miracle and gift of God coming as man to us in the here and now. For instance, our Gospel on the preaching of John the Baptist makes us realise the following.

God is not frozen in history
The Gospel quotes Isaiah, who lived in Israel around the second half of the eighth century before Christ.

The preaching of John the Baptist is presented as a continuation of the mission of Isaiah, who called the people of his time to turn away from sin and to receive Him whom the prophet called, “Wonder-Counsellor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace” (Is 9:5). This connection of John the Baptist to Isaiah underlines for us what the prophets stood for; they were not just the mouthpiece of God; rather, their mission was to prepare the people for the way of the Lord. God is not the God of an era only.

In every age – in Isaiah’s world, in John’s time, and in our own time – God prepares the hearts of people for his saving work.

Jesus’ coming must empower our hopes in hard times
By mentioning personalities like Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate, Herod, Philip, Lysanias, and the high priests Annas and Caiaphas, the evangelist Luke portrays the world of John the Baptist as one teeming with suffering, resentment, and despair. Israel was then occupied by the Romans; Greek language and culture were imposed. Israel’s revered traditions were being corrupted by ambitious leaders. Against all this, John the Baptist, “a voice of one crying out in the desert” proclaims: “All flesh shall see the salvation of God”. Mightier than the sword and the chains is the hope that Jesus’ coming brings. Even the prophet Isaiah, in his time, comforted the people with these words of hope – “Thus says the Lord: In a time of favour, I answer you, on the day of salvation I help you, to restore the land and allot the desolate heritages” (Is 49:8). Oppression will give way to salvation.

Jesus’ coming must bring us to turning points
If God in Jesus is ready to do new and unexpected things for men and women of every age, a baptism of repentance and forgiveness of sins must be preached. Life cannot continue as in the past. As Luke writes, those who sit on mighty thrones (like Herod) and those who occupy seats of honour in the temples and in the synagogues (like Annas and Caiaphas) must do one thing – Repent! A Change of Heart! Old routines must be set aside for new to come in.

Hence, we are called to repent, to prepare a way for the Lord. Advent is a time to listen to the voice of God, to prepare our hearts, to repent. It is a time to reflect and ponder if our words, actions, and choices have negative consequences for those around us, especially our neighbours and communities and for the whole world. We need repentance if we have lived our lives not according to God’s will, placing our own desires oppressively over the needs of our brothers and sisters in need. We need a change if our priorities are not in tune with God’s mind and heart.

All of us are called to make a change in our lives and to try and live differently this Advent by making God our priority. We can begin by renewing our relationship with God and one other, recognising that we are all connected because God lives in each of us. To reflect further we can ask ourselves, ‘How can I make a change this Advent’?

--Fr Christopher W. Soosaipillai is the parish priest of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Setapak. 

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