Second Sunday of Advent
Baruch 5:1-9, Psalm 126:1-6, Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11, & Luke 3:1-6
Today's Gospel narrative begins with a "litany" of names and titles. Homilists, myself included, do not like lists. Proclaiming these tongue-twisting names seems unnecessary and an awkward preface to the meat of the passage. I suspect Saint Luke was a history buff; however, is it important to anyone else? The answer is a resounding "Yes." By setting the preparations for the Advent of Jesus Christ in the context of world history and the universal purpose of God, Luke says that the Gospel belongs to the people. The Gospel is for the world, and this is God's gift of His creation.
Luke preserves these names of influential people for posterity because of their influence upon the lives of John the Baptist and Jesus. The Gospel will encounter the poor, lame, and blind, and the synagogue rulers, high priests, governors, kings, treasurers, city officials, imperial guards, and finally, the emperor himself. Luke is also speaking to the covenant community, "The Word of God came to John." John's ministry is the fulfillment of the Word, "Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths." Later, Luke designates John's preaching as the "Good News."
Our first reading from Baruch, probably the least known of all the Books in the Bible, is clear and unambiguous. A mourning and dispirited Jerusalem will have cause for celebration because God is about to act to bring those people home.
In Paul's letter to the Philippians, he expresses affections generated by a long-standing relationship. Paul is not writing to a church he has only recently established, but to a church, he has known for years. He received their financial support, their prayers, and their loving concern. It is a genuine partnership that existed between Paul and his supporting church that accounts for the intimate tone of this prayer; "You have a permanent place in my heart, and God knows how much I miss you all, loving you as Christ Jesus loves you." The Advent pearl of wisdom for us is that "…on the Day of Christ you will be flawless and without blame, reaping the full harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God."
Advent is a time to renew and deepen our relationship with God. It is a time of patient waiting for God, prayerful and trusting waiting for God. Because the Season of Advent is so important, the Church gives us four weeks to celebrate it. Celebrate Advent with your heart; it is an opportunity to step back from that which preoccupies and distracts us daily and make a straight way for the Lord to receive the extraordinary grace God has planned for you this Advent.
A final thought: The most influential people in our world are not those in positions of power but those who have significant roles in our personal lives. The gift of John the Baptist to us is that he gave voice to the Word, which stands forever. The eternal Word of God remains with us until the end of time.
Question of the Day: How will you share the importance of Advent with others?
Prayer: "The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy." (Psalm 126)