[Lectio] Second Sunday of Advent (B)

2nd Sunday of Advent (Mark 1:1–8) – December 10, 2017

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: 

Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;

he will prepare your way.

A voice of one crying out in the desert:

“Prepare the way of the Lord,

make straight his paths.”

John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist.  He fed on locusts and wild honey.  And this is what he proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me.  I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.  I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

GRASPING THE MESSAGE OF GOD’S WORD

Mark begins his Gospel in medias res, that is, somewhere at the middle of the story of Jesus.  The evangelist does not have an account of the infancy story of Jesus.  He does introduce his narrative on Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as a “gospel” which means “good news.”

This good news that he is proclaiming begins with the preaching of John the Baptist who fits into the mold of the messenger of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke—the one who cries out “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”

The beginning of the Gospel of Mark thus has the tone of preparation.  The theme of the ministry of John the Baptist is one of baptism, of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  From what he wore (camel’s hair and leather belt) and ate (locusts and wild honey), John seemed to reprise the role of the prophets of old.  Many were coming to him to be baptized.  Then we hear him referring to Jesus, the one who is coming after him: one who is mightier, one who will baptize not with water but with the Holy Spirit.

LIVING GOD’S WORD

What do we consider as “gospel” in our life?  They are good news, or realizations that give us joy and hope, obviously.  But do they ultimately lead to Jesus?   In this text that we have read, the gospel begins with the beautiful ministry of John the Baptist—but his words (and eventually, the whole of the Gospel of Mark) led to Jesus.  We can also see the beginning of the Gospel of Mark as a guide in preparing the way of the Lord: repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  When we come to meet the Lord, we come with humble and contrite hearts.

1.    In this season of Advent, we remember to prepare for the Lord’s coming.  What am I doing to prepare to commemorate his birth on Christmas?

2.    How do I prepare myself when I meet the Lord in his Word and in the sacraments?

PRAYING GOD’S WORD

Make an examination of conscience and ask the Lord for forgiveness. Make a resolution to encounter Him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Acknowledge Jesus as the end and goal of all your actions and endeavors.  Pray for the gift of humility.

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