Second Sunday of Advent – Year A

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Thomas R. McCarthy, O.S.A.
Marylake Shrine of Our Lady of Grace
King City, Ontario

Is 11:1-10
Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
Rom 15:4-9
Mt 3:1-12

John the Baptist is a very unique and colorful character in our Advent scripture readings. John was chosen by God to be the one who proclaims who Jesus is and calls all to repent, believe in and follow Jesus.

From his mother Elizabeth’s womb, John leapt for joy when he encountered Jesus in Mary’s womb as she visited her cousin Elizabeth. Through my sisters, I have had the privilege of feeling the kick of a baby in its mother’s womb and it was a blessing and joy to feel the kick of new life and the potential that new life brings to the world. So, I know what a kick feels like, as does every mother, but I can only imagine what a leap feels like! That is the joy John felt when he encountered Jesus, the Savior of the world. From his mother’s womb, John was proclaiming that Jesus was our Savior.

After John grew and matured, we encounter him again in today’s Gospel as he appeared in the desert of Judea preaching repentance and forgiveness and baptizing the throngs of people coming to the Jordan River. He proclaimed Jesus and preached about forgiveness and changing one’s life to follow Jesus. In his camel’s hair clothes and diet of wild honey and locusts, John becomes the one chosen by God to proclaim Jesus as Savior. Some listened and believed while some found his invitation too challenging. Some thought John was the Chosen One but he quickly clarified that he is not and the One coming after him is so great that he is not worthy to untie the straps of His sandals – a truly vivid image and proclamation!

Advent is a time of preparation. It is a time to really ponder how we are preparing for Christ’s coming to us, not only at Christmas, but whenever we will meet him through the second coming or our own death. Should we be paranoid or afraid that we will meet Jesus or should we be anxious and excited that one day we will get to meet Jesus face to face? I hope we will be of the latter attitude.

How does John speak to us today? How are we preparing for the day we will meet Jesus face to face? How are we aware of our giftedness? How are we aware of our sinfulness and trust that we will be forgiven if we simply ask for forgiveness? How will you and I use this sacred Advent time to slow down and truly look at how we are living our lives? In the midst of the craziness of this time of year, let us truly slow down and take time to listen to John’s message to us. Let us follow John’s example and leap for joy as we encounter Jesus this Advent season!