Second Sunday of Advent - Cycle C
1st Reading - Baruch 5:1-9
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 126: 1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6
2nd Reading - Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11
Gospel - Luke 3:1-6
It is fairly easy to see that Luke likes history. He is an historian. He starts this gospel passage by reading off the names of the politicians who were in power. He does this to set an historical context to this story. We can find it on a timeline. Think about the names Luke mentions: Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate, Herod and his brother Philip, and priests Annas and Caiaphas. This list includes not only government leaders, but religious, spiritual leaders as well. Everyone reading this story would have recognized those names (and we recognize them still).
Then Luke introduces John the Baptist. Many of Luke’s readers would have known John by his lineage (the naming of his father Zechariah) but John was known for his own life as well. John was born into a family of influence and yet he is found wandering in the desert preaching “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” The original word for repentance (in both the Greek and Hebrew) was familiar and used in everyday life. It simply meant “a change of mind.” This conversion was a complete turning away from sin, towards God who then transforms and heals. John is the last of the “old law” prophets to announce the “new law” through Jesus Christ.
Luke was writing this gospel for the Gentiles, yet we know that he is pointing out that this universal salvation is for everyone, (not just the Gentiles, but Jews as well) by using the quote from Isaiah. Luke wanted his readers to understand that this Jewish practice (along with circumcision and sacrifice) was for all, not just a chosen few.
Ultimately, this gospel is a reminder that Jesus is coming back. Luke’s gospel, when read in context with the other readings from this Sunday’s lectionary (1st Reading, Responsorial Psalm and 2nd Reading) invites us to contemplate that God exists in the past, in the future and in the now.
The preparatory tone and significance of John’s message is not lost on us today. We are still being called to turn away from sin and towards God. Repentance doesn’t just mean we are sorry, it means change. During Advent (in particular) we are being called to watch, prepare and change. John’s message still resonates with us today. Luke listed the most powerful leaders of the time in this gospel, and yet it is John the Baptist that has been written in history as greater than any of those mentioned.
Lowering lofty mountains and raising up the valleys can symbolically describe our spiritual goals as we prepare for the coming of the Kingdom. Our weaknesses need to be fortified and our pride humbled.
1. How would you define or describe “humility”?
2. Is humility an attractive quality? What are the fruits of humility?
3. When people speak about false humility, what do you think they mean?
4. What did Jesus do or say that revealed His humility?
5. In what ways does humility make people more open to other people, different ideas and various value systems?