This season of Advent heralds the coming of Emmanuel, "God with us". It is the time we realize when our God comes to earth to take on human form and live on earth just as we live. He does it as he shares his life and love with us. When God shares his love with us he invites us to share our love with Him and with others. Advent is the time of waiting as we prepare ourselves to welcome the God who became man and who by example showed us how we too should be able to live like him for others. Advent means waiting. We wait for someone we love and we long to meet that person.
In today's Gospel Luke beautifully places the beginning of John the Baptist's ministry within a historical context. He sets John's ministry in historical time by telling his audience who the leaders were in the region. John's role was to prepare the way for Jesus and to proclaim a theme of repentance for those who chose to follow Jesus. He also explains the role of John the Baptist in the context of the mission of Jesus. Like any army is busy filling shallow places and leveling mountains to make roads, so also is John's job to make the pathway smooth for those coming to Jesus. The chronological data given here are more detailed in Luke, indicating that the Ministry of Jesus starts immediately after the preaching and baptizing of John. Today's message comes to us through the scripture readings that we should continue to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ in our world and into our lives.
Today's Gospel Reading presents us the words of John the Baptist, "Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth: and all flesh shall see the salvation of God." He comes "proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins," says Luke. There are three words which are closely linked – baptism, repentance, and forgiveness. Baptism is the call to be initiated in the life of Jesus and be cleansed from all blemishes. It is a symbolic action through which people expressed their reconciliation with God by their immersion in the waters of the River Jordan hoping that their desire to have their evil past totally washed away. 'Repentance' is the forgiveness of sins and is understood as metanoia, meaning change of Heart not just sorrow for past sins but a total and radical change of outlook in our relationship with God and other people. It calls for a radical and genuine renewal and conversion of heart. It signifies new outlook on life in keeping with the will of God. This metanoia or conversion in turn will bring about the forgiveness of sin. Forgiveness means a letting go, liberation from the chains of sin and evil. Forgiveness is seen as the dropping off of heavy baggage or burdens. Forgiveness involves a total reconciliation with our God and our neighbors and it is a healing, a making whole.BACK TO LIST