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.
John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan,
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,
as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:
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.
by Father Dan Kroger, OFM
- In the first reading, Jerusalem is told to take off its robe of mourning and misery. Why is Jerusalem suffering?
What is God about to do for Jerusalem? Note that Jerusalem represents all the people.
- Why does Paul pray for the people of Philippi with joy in heart in this week’s second reading?
Paul is confident and sure that God will complete the good work that was begun by God in the Philippians. Why?
Does Paul say that he has warm thoughts and feelings for the Philippians?
- When, according to the Gospel, did the word of God come to John the son of Zechariah? Who was the reigning emperor of Rome at the time?
What did John do when the word of God came to him in the desert?
What did John the son of Zechariah proclaim?
What does it take to “prepare the way of the Lord?”
by Susan Hines-Brigger
- Take the lead from John the Baptist, and use your voice to proclaim the coming of Jesus. Gather together some friends and family and go out Christmas caroling in your neighborhood. Or check with your local nursing home to see if you could visit and sing with the residents.
- The Gospel speaks of repentance and forgiveness of sins. Make an effort to go to Confession sometime during this Advent season.