Msgr. Owen Campion
Msgr. Owen Campion
The Sunday Gospel
December 8, 2018 // The Sunday Gospel

Joy and peace prevail where Jesus reigns

Msgr. Owen Campion
Msgr. Owen Campion
The Sunday Gospel

Second Sunday of Advent
Luke 3:1-6

The Book of Baruch, the source of this Advent’s weekend first biblical reading, is relatively brief, only five chapters. It also is among the books called by Protestants scholars the Apocrypha, by Catholics the Deutero-Canonical. As such it does not appear in the King James Version of the Bible and some other translations that rely upon the thinking that led to the selection of books for inclusion in the King James edition.

It is not found in Jewish translations of the Scriptures. Indeed, while some of the ancient Fathers of the Church knew about and quoted Baruch, St. Jerome did not include it in his translation of the Bible, the Vulgate.

For Catholics, however, most important is the fact that the Church long ago officially recognized it as divine revelation.

Regardless, when Baruch was written, great problems beset God’s people — not a rare circumstance. This book encouraged those who were suffering, reassuring them that God would not forsake them, and that God’s justice and mercy would prevail in the end.

Always, in good times or bad, some people were lukewarm in their religious devotion. Baruch calls the indifferent to piety.

The Epistle to the Philippians furnishes the next reading. Sent as a letter to the Christians of Philippi, an important city in the ancient Roman Empire, the epistle urges the Philippians loyal to the Lord to be steadfast in their faith, come what may, until the second coming of Jesus.

As often predicted elsewhere in the New Testament, this reading says that one day, but at a time unknown, Jesus definitely will come again in triumph and judgment. Evil finally will be defeated once and for all.

St. Luke’s Gospel is the source of the last reading. This reading centers upon Jesus, although highly visible in the reading is John the Baptist. Carefully constructed, the Gospel presents the coming of Jesus as uniquely important in the course of human affairs.

The Lord’s coming was so important, in fact, that preceding this coming was the proclamation of God’s majesty and of human responsibility before God, and to God, by John the Baptist.

John was a prophet and a holy man. Ancient Jews thought that holiness gave persons special wisdom. God used such persons to reveal truth to other humans. Through John, God was revealing the person and mission of Christ.

Also, to emphasize the importance of the Lord’s coming, this Gospel takes pains in setting the presence of John and the coming of Christ at an exact moment in history, namely by stating that it all occurred when Tiberius was emperor, Pilate his governor in Palestine and so on. Jesus came in human time and space.

He came, in God’s mercy, as fulfilling the hopes of the prophets of old who had yearned for the redeemer who would destroy evil and death. When this messiah would come, all would be made right. The rough ways for people would be made smooth. Now, as John the Baptist declared with such conviction, the Redeemer at last had come.

Reflection

When Baruch was written, times were bad for the Jews. When Philippians and the Gospel of Luke were written, times were hard for Christians.

On this Second Sunday of Advent, the Church speaks to us. Times are hard. Bloodshed has come to be common. So has addiction. Today’s drift from God is spinning a deadly web. Sin still cripples us and dooms us to eternal death.

All will be right, joy and peace will prevail, however, if we admit Jesus into our lives. He will come to us, but we must invite the Lord into our lives sincerely, by reforming ourselves, by renouncing sin and by giving ourselves totally to God.

The call of John the Baptist is spoken to us.

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