Dec. 6—Second Sunday of AdventReadings: Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11; Psalm 85, R. Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.; 2 Peter 3: 8-14; Gospel – Mark 1: 1-8One of the figures in the Season of Advent, as well as in the simbang gabi tradition in the Philippines, is John the Baptist. Today we see him in the gospel for the second Sunday of Advent.
One can imagine the longing of the people then for Christ’s first coming as the Messiah, the Emmanuel, especially as we recall that for 400-500 years the prophetic voice was silent.
At the same time, it was centuries of corruption, i.e., the rise of religious factions that corrupted the practice and institutions of religion. This was in great part due to the absence of the prophetic voice which reminded people to return to the right path whenever they strayed.
This is the context in which John the Baptist appears and fulfills his mission to be the precursor of Jesus. The prophetic voice speaks again through John.
I invite you to reflect on this, how we need and can become a prophetic voice, the invitation to be Johns in the midst of what is happening in our world today—how we can help one another to prepare for the coming of Jesus.
Here are three practical points to reflect on and to pray with.
First is the need for the prophetic voice during this time. Second is the basic function of the prophetic voice to call us back to the core of our relationship with Jesus. Third are the three qualities of the prophet as seen in the Gospel for today.
The need for the prophetic voice is a constant need, as constant as the need for checks and balances in any community or organization.
There is a need for this voice within us and among us. Our concupiscence individually and communally gives rise to this need. We need to be reminded.
The other day we were discussing this in a community. It struck me how the community said we need this prophetic voice built into the system or process.
We were talking about the crisis the community had just gone through. Yes, the community will learn and find a better way to do things, but as we get used to the new order, there is a tendency to “get comfortable.” New patterns of behavior emerge and are again in need of checking and correction.
The question was: Is there a way for us to build into the system or process the self-correcting function or the reminder? This is the prophetic voice reminding us to be faithful and to be constantly dynamic in our living out our life, work and mission.
It is the voice within us and among us in our personal and communal prayer, discernment and action.
It is not just any voice that calls us back to fidelity and to live, work and do mission properly, but one that calls us to “pagbabalik-loob,” the metanoia, the repentance and conversion.
It is a turning back into the integrity of our core in which we find the core of our relationship with Jesus. It is a return to this relationship or to Jesus.
This synthesizes the three comings of Jesus. We prepare to celebrate his coming as God-with-us, the Emmanuel, this Christmas. We prepare with joy, and with joy make room for him in our hearts.
We remember his promise that he will come again. This is the game changer. Our hope in his coming again is rooted and grounded in our faith and hope in the Paschal Mystery, the Cross and Resurrection that is the definitive act of redemption. This is the guarantee that he will come again.
This is the hope with which we live our day-to-day life. Yes, we can live in hope. As the prayer in the first preface of Advent goes, “the great promise in which now I dare to hope.”
Qualities of the prophet
Finally, the three qualities of the prophet. Let us begin with her mission or role. I would like to use here the mission or role of John the Baptist from the Canticle of Zechariah from Luke.
“And you, child, will be called prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give his people knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God
by which the daybreak from on high will visit us
to shine on those who sit in darkness and death’s shadow,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Reflect and pray over these beautiful words of how as prophets, we are to “go before the Lord to prepare his ways.”
The second quality of the prophet is to bear witness to the simplicity of life, the way John the Baptist did in today’s Gospel, witness to the old saying, “Live simply so others may simply live.” This becomes more meaningful now in the midst of the suffering of the many who are marginalized.
The final quality is humility: “I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.” It’s perhaps the most important quality, for as John the Baptist says, “I must decrease and he must increase.”
This is the true and final grace we pray for, that Jesus may come into our lives at Christmas, in his second coming in glory, and in the day to day. —CONTRIBUTED INQ