The Gospel, the Good News, is Jesus himself, his preaching, his ministry.  That is why his presence fills us with consolation, joy and hope.

The Gospel implies newness, which shows up in the beginning.  That is because John the Baptist is a different, a new, prophet.

John preaches in the desert.  He is an outsider then.  He proclaims a baptism of repentance.  Besides, his lifestyle, which reminds us of Prophet Elijah, is different.

The Baptist calls people to repentance, yes.  But he does so humbly.  First, he makes it clear that it is not about him.  He points to someone mightier than he.  He admits, moreover, that he baptizes with water, while the one coming after him will baptize with the Holy Spirit.

In other words, John states humbly that the one who embodies the Gospel is not he, but Jesus.  Yet because of his humility, the call to repentance also becomes joyful news for his listeners.

That is why people from all of Judea and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem go out to him.  They acknowledge their sins and receive baptism.  In the desert, the Lord speaks to their hearts, and they answer him as in the days of their youth (Hos 2, 16-17).  It would not be so, were John like the self-righteous who belittle and condemn others.

We prepare the way of the Lord by giving living witness to the Gospel.

Like John the Baptist, we have the order to go ahead of Jesus to prepare his way.  But spiteful and condemning rebukes will not help us in our mission.  To win others, it is better that we speak humbly and respectfully.  It will be even better if we ourselves become the Gospel, that is, the effective concern that poor people need.

And as disciples, we shall do as the austere messenger.  We will distance ourselves from the usual expectations of worldly people who serve mammon.  We shall announce a different message that will become Gospel for the poor.  Yes, our proclamation will be that of our Teacher:  “Blessed are the poor.”

This will demand, of course, that, like Mary and Joseph and the Baptist, we belong to the group of “the poor of Yahweh.”  These are people who have nothing but their faith in God; they wait for his consolation and salvation.  They keep the true religion (SV.EN XI:190).  Among them, no one goes hungry, and the poorest get utmost respect.  That is why their celebration of the Lord’s Supper brings consolation, joy and hope.  In that way, too, they hasten the coming of the Lord.

Lord Jesus, make us like you, the Gospel for the poor.  Grant, then, that we bring consolation, joy and hope to those who are poor.

10 December 2017
Second Sunday of Advent (B)
Is 40, 1-5. 9-11; 2 Pt 3, 8-14; Mk 1, 1-8


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