This weekend we light the second purple candle on the Advent Wreath and our readings are all about preparing the way for the Lord. In our readings we hear four voices encouraging people to imagine the good future that God has in store for them. The readings invite all of us to imagine the best and then act accordingly. In the first reading the prophet Baruch asks the people to change their wardrobe – to throw away the dress of sorrow and distress and wrap the cloak of God’s integrity around them. Things are going to look up, they should be dressed appropriately and have courage again in the future. So, too, the psalmist asks people to imagine a time when they will no longer be in bondage, sowing in tears, but will return full of joy carrying a harvest of good things.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul takes a similar line. He compliments the people for helping him in his work, tells them how much he loves them, and invites them to prepare for that day “when you will reach… perfect goodness”.

Finally, John the Baptist in the Gospel story is travelling around the Jordan district announcing to anyone within earshot the great day to come when “all mankind shall see the salvation of God”. John the Baptist is one the central figures whom we meet over and over again in the Scripture texts chosen for use in the Advent liturgy. He stands at the threshold between the Old & New Testaments, a bridge linking the two. In John we see the culmination of centuries of prophecy, anticipation, and preparation.  John’s message did not die with him. The need for repentance and conversion of heart remains constant among God’s people even now. John’s words have continued to resound in Christian ears throughout the centuries. In a few days time on December the 8th we celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception it is also the day when we begin the Holy Year of Mercy with the opening of the Holy Door in St. Peters in Rome the theme of the year will be Merciful like the Father.

The Advent liturgy vibrates with the challenge of the Baptists cry, “Reform your lives!” May we take John’s call to heart the Holy Year which is in our midst!



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