Father Peter Clarke

From the Diocese of Bridgetown

A Reflection For The 3rd Sunday Of Advent By Fr. Peter Clarke, OP

A Reflection For The 3rd Sunday Of Advent                                 By Fr. Peter Clarke, OP

Greetings, brothers and sisters. I'm Fr. Peter Clarke, standing in for my brother Fr. Isidore who is not well enough to produce the weekly reflections on the Sunday Gospel. Kindly remember him in your prayers.

In each of the four Gospels we read of the wild-looking man from the wilderness causing a sensation by his fiery preaching - his cajoling people to repent and get baptized. This Sunday, the 3rd of Advent, the Church wants us to consider St. John's account of this. John the Baptist had a compelling two- pronged message. Prepare the way for the coming of the Lord. Repent of your sins in a public way. And show the world you are genuine. Get yourself be baptized – plunged under the water.

No surprise the religious authorities wanted to know what was going on. Where was all this leading? 'Who was he? Their questions were framed around ahistory of God giving His Chosen People leaders such as Moses, and prophets such as Elijah; and of His promising to send them someone of outstanding worth…the Messiah, who would embody the attributesof Moses the leader and Elijah the prophet.

The Baptist strongly denied that he was Moses, Elijah and even more strongly that he was the Messiah. What more could they ask but "Who are you?" His answer left them not much the wiser!

"I am as the prophet Isaiah predicted, 'A voice that cries in wilderness, make a straight way for the Lord.'" This reply lead to a further question, "Why are you baptizing people?" Implying they don't need it.Baptisms were reserved for gentiles wishing to become Jews. Those coming to John the Baptist were already Jews and, surprisingly, they were even repenting. In crowds, they were seeking to be baptized by John!

His reply was simply, "I baptize with water, butthere stands among you – unknown to you – one who is coming after me; and I'm not fit to undo his sandal-strap." You can't get much lower than that…the task of the lowest ranking servant!

That's exactly the point the Baptist wanted to make. People must realize that the coming of the one he was announcing was something huge; something that made him feel like a midget; something that was making people aware how unfit they were for the occasion – something that prompted them to repent of their sins!

And this is the staggering Good News the Church's liturgy is giving us as we draw closer to celebrating the birth of Mary's child – the Son of God, the Son of man.Advent - the season of preparing ourselves for Christmas - ought to be producing a significant reaction us. We shouldn't be left unmoved.

So I say to myself and I say to you, "DO YOURSELF A FAVOUR! GET MOVING!"

God bless you.

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