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This Sunday we celebrate the second Sunday of the season of Advent. In our Gospel this Sunday we encounter the figure of John the Baptist. John is a central figure during Advent. He is the precursor of Christ ----- the one who came to prepare the way for Christ. His message was simple. “John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”
In this Sunday’s Gospel Luke introduces John by describing a very specific place and time. “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip, tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zechariah in the desert.” I suspect the reason for this specificity is that Luke wanted to place the beginning of John’s ministry on center stage in world and local history at that time.
Our first reading this Sunday is from the Book of the Prophet Baruch. The people of Israel are in exile in Babylon and feeling abandoned and hopeless. In the face of this situation, Baruch reminds them that God has not forgotten them, and he offers them a vision of hope for the future. “Up, Jerusalem! Stand upon the heights; look to the east and see your children gathered from the east and the west at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that they are remembered by God.”
Our second reading this Sunday is from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Philippians. In the section we read today Paul offers a prayer for the Philippians. “And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ……………”
Questions for Discussion/Reflection:
- Advent is a season of preparation rather than a season of repentance. What do you need to do to prepare for Christ during the season of Advent?
- Baruch offers a vision of hope for Israel in their exile. Is there a scripture passage that offers you a vision of hope?
- Paul prays that the Philippians will discern what is of value. How do you discern what is of value?