Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever: wrapped in the cloak of justice from God, bear on your head the miter that displays the glory of the eternal name. For God will show all the earth your splendor: you will be named by God forever the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship. 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. Led away on foot by their enemies they left you: but God will bring them back to you borne aloft in glory as on royal thrones. For God has commanded that every lofty mountain be made low, and that the age-old depths and gorges be filled to level ground, that Israel may advance secure in the glory of God. The forests and every fragrant kind of tree have overshadowed Israel at God’s command; for God is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory, with his mercy and justice for company.
Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11
Brothers and sisters: I pray always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. 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, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
Gospel Cycle Cycle C
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: A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
This Sunday is always John the Baptist proclaiming the Messiah. It is wonderful and we can sense the joy of the Baptist. God is sending a Redeemer. We know that it does not turn out to be the kind of Redeemer for which many were hoping. This Redeemer is not a man of power and might in the way of the world.
Listen to the Prophet Baruch once again: God is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory, with his mercy and justice for company. The Redeemer will bring joy, mercy and justice. Jesus teaches us how to live in joy with mercy and justice by his humility and poverty. This is not the kind of redemption for which people hope.
The Letter to the Philippians takes us the same theme: the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. The good work begun in us is faith, not power and might. Faith in a God who loves us. Faith in a God who sends us His Son to free us from sin.
The Gospel of Luke today gives us the words of the Baptist: Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. John the Baptist proclaims a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. It is the poor and the outcast who follow him. Occasionally a person of wealth and power gets interested in him. Some people seem to think that he is a fanatic.
This Advent presents us with the normal challenge of our faith: Who do we say that Jesus is? Who is Jesus in my life here and now? Do I want a Redeemer? What kind of a Redeemer?
Our God loves us and promises everlasting life in the world to come. In this life He only promises us suffering and trials—with a deep inner joy and peace if we live in faith. Advent reminds us to purify ourselves from all that is not of God. John the Baptist points the way for us in Advent: purify, repent, forgiveness. Yet we know that this message is to prepare us for the coming of One who loves us beyond all we can imagine and who wants us to share His life forever.
My sisters and brothers, let us walk the way of the Lord in this Advent and know the presence of the Savior in our lives. Come, Lord Jesus.