The Gospel for the Second Sunday of Advent is always about John the Baptist, an important Advent figure. The importance of our reflecting on John is underscored by the fact that the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, usually celebrated on December 8, gets moved to tomorrow, rather than shifting our focus today away from the Baptist.
I’ve written a lot about John in the past and will speak about him both at Our Lady of Lourdes in Minneapolis later this morning and next week at our Advent Retreat in Daily Living. Here let me share an excerpt from a reflection on John by Bruce Epperly, a UCC pastor. He writes:
John dreamed of the peaceable realm and so do we. He never lived to see its full embodiment, but he planted seeds that enabled Jesus to move forward as its messenger and embodiment. John is Advent personified: he embodies the fierce urgency of the now, but not yet. He is impatient with our foolishness and sin, and wants us to be better. As Advent messenger, he knows that salvation occurs through the transformation of one person at a time. This very moment is the right time for us to let go of the past, turn away from our half-heartedness and complicity with injustice, and find a new pathway to God’s peaceable kingdom, one step and one breath at a time.
The uniqueness of John’s message is a good theme for this Sunday’s sermon. His radical vision, preparing the way for Jesus, challenges us to prepare the way for Jesus’ mission in our time. Our preparation is a matter of deeds as well as words. Walking in the way of Jesus involves a commitment to constant transformation and renewal, to changing our ways in response to God’s wondrous gifts of grace. Like John, we are challenged to announce the coming of a world not yet born, critique our own and our community’s hypocrisy, and recognize that Christ’s presence demands a radical reorientation of values so that we might recognize the realm of God already emerging in our midst.
Am I ready to meet the challenge to “announce the coming of a world not yet born,” with all that entails?
What graces do I need from God to be as John in my world today?