The birth of John the Baptist begins the immediate preparations for the coming of the Messiah.
Today is the eighteenth day in our set of meditations inspired by Jesse Tree Advent Tradition. (To see previous days, click here.)
The concept comes from a passage in Isaiah, where the prophet says, “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots” (11:1). Jesse is the father of King David, and Jesus was born into that same line of David through his foster-father’s (Joseph’s) ancestry.
Each day of December we will offer a brief Scripture passage and reflection, following God’s marvelous plan of salvation in the Jesse Tree tradition.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?” For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.(Luke 1:63-66)
In today’s liturgy the figure of John the Baptist appears, the prophet sent to prepare the way for the Messiah. His voice cries out “in the wilderness” where he had withdrawn and where, as the Evangelist Luke says, “the word of God came to [him]” (Lk 3:2), making him the herald of the divine kingdom.How can we fail to accept his powerful call to conversion, recollection and austerity at a time — like our own —ever more subject to dissipation, to inner fragmentation, to the cultivation of appearances? At first sight the “wilderness” evokes a feeling of solitude, bewilderment and fear; the “wilderness” however is also the providential place for meeting God.John the Baptist’s cry re-echoes from generation to generation: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth” (Lk 3:4-5). How urgent and timely is this call at both the personal and social level! God wants to come and dwell with the people of every time and place, and he calls them to co-operate with him in the work of salvation.But how? Today’s liturgy gives us the answer: we must “straighten” injustices, “fill” the void with goodness, mercy, respect and understanding, “bring low” pride, barriers and violence, and “make smooth” all that prevents people from living a free and dignified life. Only in this way can we prepare to celebrate Christmas in an authentic way.(St. John Paul II, Angelus, December 7, 1997)
PrayerMay your grace, almighty God,
always go before us and follow after,
so that we, who await with heartfelt desire
the coming of your Only Begotten Son,
may receive your help both now and in the life to come.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
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