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WHO WILL BE OUR ‘JOHN THE BAPTIST’? A reflection for 2nd Sun. of Advent Yr. B
By Fr. Modestus Mgbaramuko
Sun, 10 Dec 2017

As we enter the second week of Advent, every heart is encouraged to return to Advent’s central need. The Lord’s return as Peter reminds us in the second reading, is one thing that ‘you must never forget’. God’s patience with us, even if only briefly symbolised through the weeks of Advent, is not a delay. While the reckoning of space and time is differently aligned in God, the message remains that we need to “prepare” or put our lives in order.

The prophet Isaiah proclaims ‘consolation’ to God’s people. He breaks open the long-awaited assurances of security, the much-anticipated peace of mind and atonement. Responding to the command of God to announce that God’s saving power will once again be raised in favour of God’s people, Isaiah dwells on the need to listen to a ‘voice’ that ‘cries in the wilderness’, urging all God’s people to make ready... (Is 40:3).

This mode of Preparation sets the tone for today’s Gospel. Mark opens it by proclaiming Jesus as God’s Son, and by stressing that God’s salvation is delivered to us through Christ. According to the evangelist, Mark, John the Baptist fulfils Isaiah’s prophecy. And it is very fitting to see how this remarkable figure is quickly put at the centre of the Advent readiness. Advent must become personal, even as the person of John is crucial to every honest preparation of Advent. John is about the practical things that needed to be done; the profession of faith to be lived and made visible.

John’s courage shows us how to develop our self-awareness of God. John’s remarkable simplicity may have been noted for his age but clearly, it belonged more to ours. The honesty, poise and zeal remarkably noted in John, tasks us to cast aside our masks, so that we too, can put on Christ and stand for Christ as our true reality. Even before his witness – ‘prepare the way for the Lord’ was sounded, the person of John the Baptist was clear statement enough, as John never spoke from both sides of one mouth. The sight of John and the words from him immediately commanded conviction to the difference which he had come to make.

Who will be our ‘John’ this Advent and always? Would you consider leading the crusade to help abate the utter disdain for the poor masses of our people, even as they stand impoverished from the social crimes perpetrated during this festive season? Though that our Sunday masses are jam-packed, yet we return to the shops on Monday to sing a new ‘religious’ credo of Gain at all Costs. Thus, rather than prepare the way of righteousness, we add in making our paths to God so crooked and slim. Are you playing a part in the doubling of food prices, artificial hiking of petroleum products, faking and selling of faked medicines that deal deaths to your own people? In your conscience, is this how to prepare for the coming of the saviour?

Today, John’s story does not require that our food becomes locust, or that we use Carmel’s skin for clothing. But it does require that we open our lives a bit more to our faith in God. For example, John’s good news insisted that, beyond putting on the decorations, and stringing out Christmas lights; that one ought to take direct steps to reconcile simmering hurts with one’s neighbour at this time. We can still do even more by easing the burdens in our own hearts through candid moves towards dialogue and forgiveness given and truly received at this season.

Indeed, we too, can find assurance in Peter’s words by taking the opportunity of God’s patience to spiritually put ourselves and our houses in order for meeting Christ; as if this Advent and Christmas were the very last ones that we will have.

 

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