Gospel and Reflection - Sunday 10 December 2023
Gospel: Mark 1: 1-8
a voice cries in the wilderness: prepare a way for the lord
The beginning of the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is written in the book of the prophet Isaiah:
Look, I am going to send my messenger before you; he will prepare your way.
A voice cries in the wilderness: Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.
And so it was that John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. All Judaea and all the people of Jerusalem made their way to him, and as they were baptised by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins. John wore a garment of camel-skin, and he lived on locusts and wild honey. In the course of his preaching he said, ‘Someone is following me, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals. I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.’
a baptism for conversion
Each Advent has two John-the-Baptist Sundays, the first when we see John preparing a community for the Messiah, the second when he points out Jesus as the Lamb of God. This Sunday is the first of these. John chose a point where the busy road from Jerusalem to the East crossed the Jordan River. There he button-holed all the busy financiers, merchants and other travellers and tourists, warning them to change their ways – and to change them now, before it was too late. ‘I am too busy,’ no doubt they said, ‘I have other things to worry about; I have a wife and family to feed.’ John was forming a community of repentance, but not so much a community which wept ‘Boo-hoo!’ about their sins, as a community of people determined to set their scale of values right. He meant them to stop going in one direction, to turn around and go in a different direction.
Do we give ourselves a moment of pause to ask whether we have our priorities right? Where on our list of priorities does the entry of Christ into our lives come? John said rotten trees were going to be cut down, useless straw to be burnt. Do I need to feel the axe at my feet?
A reflection by Fr Henry Wansbrough, OSB.
Reflective Question John the Baptist tells the gathering crowds that the one who is coming "will baptise you with the Holy Spirit". Where in your life are you in need of the Holy Spirit's animating fire?
A Prayer for the Second Sunday of Advent
God of patience,
show us your wisdom in time,
that we may grow to expect action on your time.
Teach us to be gentle and patient with ourselves.
Make us receptive to your timing in others.
Help us see the long view when we are caught in the frustration of waiting.