Second Sunday of Advent Year C
Readings: Baruch 5:1-9; Philippians 1:3-6,8-11; Luke 3:1-3
Preparing the way, flattening the mountains, filling the valleys, a radical change of heart. All three readings this Sunday focus on preparing the way of the Lord in terms of a radical change of heart. The first reading from the prophet Baruch speaks about all the elect of God assembled in jubilation because God has remembered them. The prophet further calls on God’s people to a preparation that involves a radical change of heart – flattening the mountains, the hills, and filling the valleys. Paul in the second reading urges us to be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. The Gospel reading is much more direct in urging us to "prepare the way of the Lord". These words quoted by Luke from Isaiah are associated with John the Baptist, who summons his listeners to a Baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins; a call that involves a complete change of heart from sin to the practice of virtue. Such a radical redirection signifies walking with God in a new way. In John's ministry, this was accompanied by water purification, signifying a cleansing of mind and heart. St. Luke bases John the Baptist's mission on the prophecy of Isaiah, which points to the radical nature of repentance in preparation for the imminent coming of the Messiah.
The Gospel of today sets the stage for a proclamation that something spectacular that is about to take place. The opening verses give an historical context that sounds like the introduction of the birth of Jesus. These verses lead to an announcement. The word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert. This word of God was the proclamation of “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” The central message of John is a radical change of heart, a call to turn away from selfishness and sin. Advent challenges us to prepare the way for Christ who is coming into our hearts as our Savior, bearing the most precious gift God could ever give us - salvation. What message do we take home this Sunday? 1) This Advent you and I are challenged to undergo a sincere and radical return to basics, namely, our baptismal commitment, to walk with God in a new way. 2) We are challenged to be today’s John the Baptist, proclaiming a message of repentance and forgiveness. 3) Such a message could be given by the little things we do to others: a call to someone experiencing hard times; a stop by the hospital or life care home; a smile at someone or a friendly wink to a child. Such little things go long ways to prepare our hearts for Christ when he comes.
©2012 John S. Mbinda