Father Peter Clarke

From the Diocese of Bridgetown

A Reflection On The Gospel (Mark 1.1-8) For 2ND Sunday In Advent By Fr. Peter Clarke, OP

A Reflection On The Gospel (Mark 1.1-8) For 2ND Sunday In Advent By Fr. Peter Clarke, OP

Greetings Brothers and Sisters: I'm Fr. Peter Clarke. I continue to seek your prayers for my brother Fr. Isidore whose ill-health prevents him from writing these weekly reflections on the Sunday Gospel. Today, 2nd Sunday of Advent we reflect on Mark 1.1-8. Here we are introduced to John the Baptist – a rugged man, leading a rugged life in a desolate wilderness.. He is the man sent by God to proclaim the need to prepare a highway along which God would travel to meet His people. We also hear of a multitude of people making their way towards the Baptist.

We must see this as an exciting convergence of God coming to meet His people and their making their way towards Him. Far from being a righteous crowd they were responding to the Baptist's call to repent of their sins. They were even prepared to undergo the humiliation of requesting the Baptist to duck them in the water of the River Jordan...thereby publicly admitting their need for a spiritual cleansing. And then the Baptist drew attention to someone much, much greater than himself. He, Jesus,would baptize them with the Holy Spirit. Jesus would lead them out of their sinfulness, reconcile them with God.

Our hearing of these people being introduced to the adult Jesus when He was about to launch His public ministry is vital to celebrating Advent. During this season of Advent the Church realizes the absolute necessity of our grasping the origin, the identity of Jesus. At Christmas we profess our faith that the babe in the crib – Mary's child - was, in truth, the Son of God. This infant, Jesus, would be the person John the Baptist presented to the crowd at the River Jordan. This same infant, Jesus, who would later known as the Man from Galilee, the carpenter's son would finally be known as the Man on Calvary – Jesus, our crucified Lord and Saviour.

The beauty of the incarnation must never be isolated from the harsh necessity of the Paschal Mystery – the saving, sacrificial crucifixion of Jesus leading to His glorious conquest over sin and death through His Resurrection. It is for this very reason that in religious art a cross often is inserted into the halo of the infant Jesus; or a cross is painted on the wall of the birth-place of Jesus.The Christmas Crib and the Calvary Cross are inseparable.

Consequently, during Advent as we prepare to joyfully celebrate the serenity of the birth of Baby Jesus we must remain aware of the are multitudes suffering man-made, man-allowed, miseries. Our Christmas merriment over the birth of Jesus must not be allowed to obscure the shear nastiness, the desolation, that some of God's children are inflicting on others throughout the year, every year.

Now as our thoughts turn to this Advent, this Christmas, I refer to a message Pope Benedict XV1 gave on World Youth Day 2008. "In so many of our societies, side by side with material prosperity, a spiritual desert is spreading: an interior emptiness, an unnamed fear, a quiet sense of despair. How many of our contemporaries have built broken and empty cisterns (cf. Jer 2:13) in a desperate search for meaning – the ultimate meaning that only love can give? This is the great and liberating gift which the Gospel brings: it reveals our dignity as men and women created in the image and likeness of God. It reveals humanity's sublime calling, which is to find fulfilment in love. It discloses the truth about man and the truth about life."

These words of Pope Benedict XV1 convince me that Jesus, and all He stands for, is immensely relevant to today's world. Jesus, the adult, is urgently needed to be its Saviour.Jesus the Saviour is the reason for the Advent Season.! The Saviour, impossible though it may seem to us, can change, can frustrate, the values, the behavior,of those whose contentment and fulfilment depend on what is contrary to the Good News of the Gospel.

Jesus, the Babe of Bethlehem, Jesus, of Calvary, Jesus of the Empty Tomb gives us the confidence to hope for, work for, a better world.

May you have a blessed Advent!