The beginning of the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
It is written in the book of the prophet Isaiah: Look, I am going to send my messenger before you; he will prepare your way.
A voice cries in the wilderness: Prepare a way for the Lord, make his path straight,
and so it was that John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. All Judaea and all the people of Jerusalem made their way to him, and as they were baptised by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins.
John wore a garment of camel-skin, and he lived on locusts and wild honey.
In the course of his preaching he said, ‘Someone is following me, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals. I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.’ (Mark 1:1-8)
Repentance and forgiveness console God’s people and prepare the way for the Lord to enter our hearts. The magnificent first reading from the prophet Isaiah today looks forward to the appearance of God. Great preparations take place for his arrival - hills are lowered, valleys filled in, a straight highway is made in the desert. The joyful message of God’s approach is proclaimed from the mountain tops and shouted in the streets.
How will this God show himself to his people? Not as a warrior-king with a frightening display of military power or with thunderbolts in his hands, but as a shepherd-king: feeding his flock, gathering the lambs in his arms, holding them against his breast and leading the mother ewes to rest. God’s coming liberates and frees his people through tenderness and forgiveness.
The Gospel presents John the Baptist as one who comes preparing the way for the Lord by proclaiming ‘a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins’. According to Mark, all Judea and the whole of Jerusalem come to John for baptism and to hear the proclamation of forgiveness – a moment of real conversion. John says that another will come, more powerful than himself, who will baptise, not with water, but with the Holy Spirit.
Our Advent readings help us realise God’s profound love for us and his presence within us through the Holy Spirit. Knowing that God will always treat us with love and tender care helps us to turn again towards him and to trust in the depth of his mercy.
Our Advent journey is showing us how to prepare our hearts for a fresh discovery of God’s presence in our lives; how to recognise the hidden presence of Jesus among and around us; how to turn around and face towards God with faith, hope and love; and how to be the living presence of Jesus in our moment of history.
The candles of the Advent Wreath remind us of the growing light and warmth of God’s love made visible in Christ.
Join us in celebrating at home this Sunday using the links below.