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.
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UNDERSTAND | By Father Greg Friedman, OFM
Imagine what the Old Testament prophets or John the Baptist would have made of our modern ability literally to “move mountains”! When I read today’s Scriptures, with their descriptions of filling valleys, leveling mountains and road-building, I picture a vast fleet of earth-moving equipment, and thousands of people at work. Could those Biblical visionaries have had the same picture?
Such imagination is helpful in the Advent season, as we wait for God’s promises to be fulfilled. Some of the obstacles to the coming of the Kingdom seem overwhelming. The evil that confronts us in the world, in the form of human greed, violence and injustice is formidable.
But I often find that inner obstacles are just as daunting. My own selfishness, greed, intolerance, and even the temptation to violence seem so hard to root out. I could use a bulldozer or two to help!
Paul, in the second reading, offers us another source of power to effect change: the power of prayer. Paul is confident that God, who has begun to work in the lives of the Philippians, will bring that work to completion. He prays that they will grow in love, knowledge, and the ability to choose what’s right.
Thanks to the witness and example of fellow Christians, I can believe in the power of prayer. Let’s pray for each other in these Advent days.
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DISCUSS | By Father Dan Kroger, OFM
In the first reading (Bar 5:1-9), Jerusalem is told to take off the robe of mourning and misery. What is Jerusalem told to put on?
Jerusalem is told to look to the east and west to see all her children coming home from where?
In this week’s second reading (Phil 1:4-6, 8-11), Paul expresses his love and warm regards for the Philippians. Why does he feel that way?
He prays for them. What does he tell them?
In the Gospel (Lk 3:1-6), Luke begins telling the story of John the Baptizer. When did John begin his preaching?
What was his message for all the people?
He also says that the words of the prophet Isaiah are now being fulfilled. What did Isaiah foretell about the coming of the Lord?
Light two of the candles on the Advent wreath. After lighting them, read this week’s responsorial psalm.