Vol: 44, No.2 2ND SUNDAY OF ADVENT ( A) December 04 2016  

Today is the second Sunday in our preparation to welcome the Saviour who comes. John the Baptist is on the scene. We find him in the desert of Judea. Let us consider the person of John and the message he has for us. John is the last of the great prophets. For a long time people had been without a messenger from God to challenge them with the Word of God. The voice of prophecy was silent. Now, John’s appearance on the scene puts an end to God’s silence.
John began his preaching in the wilderness where he lived. Many Pharisees and Sadducees went to receive John’s Baptism. But John was furious at them. We might wonder why John made such bitter attack on them by addressing them as “a brood of wipers”. It may be because the Pharisees, considering themselves perfect, saw no need for change, while for the Sadducees, change was pointless, because they saw no possibility of any life after death. In short, both the groups went to be baptized without having any commitment to change their lives. We have a practical lesson here: Often we too can attend religious celebrations, ceremonies and rituals, go on pilgrimages to holy places, even attend Mass and receive sacraments and recite our prayers—without having the necessary resolve to mend our ways and to change our lives. All these turn out to be fruitless and useless. And John the Baptist would have very severe words also for us.
A famous Irish preacher and author, Liam Swords, focusses on the uniqueness of the role played by John the Baptist. It is highly inspiring to command our attention:To start with, he was a “voice crying in the wilderness”. The type of person every age needs and none more than our own. Somebody prepared to speak out;


willing to take on the system, the powers-that-be. People who have the courage of their convictions, who dare to confront low standards in high places. Who do “not judge by appearances” but give “their verdict for the poor of the land.” Isaiah knew the type; he was one himself.
It was long years of imprisonment for Alexandra Solzhenitsyn and Nelson Mandela. It was the assassin’s bullet for Martin Luther King. It was both for John the Baptist. And it was not surprising. Anyone foolhardy enough to describe the religious establishment of his time as a “brood of vipers” was certain to become a marked man. He didn’t mince his words. And when he pointed a finger at the sexual scandals of the government in the person of Herod, he was a condemned man.
What makes John the Baptist unique, is that all the fame or notoriety he achieved was not for himself but for another. “The one who comes after me is more powerful than I am and I am not fit to carry his sandals.” History has no other example of people who have yielded centre-stage to another as yet unknown. That extraordinary moment has been immortalised in the Mass, fittingly just before Communion, when the priest lifts up the Host and says “Behold the Lamb of God.” These were the words the Baptist first pronounced when he spotted the unknown Jesus standing in the crowd who had come to hear John preach. His job was to prepare the way for Christ and then make way for him.
He is a model for any Christian and for all Christians. Christians should lead others to Christ. And sometimes this may entail taking themselves out of the way. Interference in others’ lives, even with the best of intentions, rarely if ever discovers Christ for them. The reverse is more often the case.

- Fr (Dr) Joseph Thenasseril SSP
December 2016 READINGS OF THE WEEK Psalter Week 2
05 Mon (V) Isa 35:1-10/ Ps 85:9-14/ Lk 5:17-26
06 Tue (V) St Nicholas, Isa 40:1-11/ Ps 96:1-3, 10-13/ Mt 18:12-14
07 Wed (W) St Ambrose, Isa 40:25-31/ Ps 103:1-4, 8, 10/ Mt 11:28-30
Gen 3:9-15,20/ Ps 98:1-4/ Eph 1:3-6,11-12/ Lk 1:26-38
09 Fri (V) Isa 48:17-19/ Ps 1:1-4, 6/ Mt 11:16-19
10 Sat (V) Sir 48:1-4, 9-11/ Ps 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19/ Mt 17:9-13
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