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First S. of Advent,Nov.28,10

Advent, 1 St S,Nov.28,10

(Lk.1:5-25)


Today marks the beginning of the liturgical season of Advent. The readings that we heard just now from the Scriptures prepare us for this beautiful period of expectations and waiting. The waiting is for the celebration of Christmas, for the birth of Jesus, for a day stamped in our memory with great feelings of joy and peace, of forgiveness and reconciliation, and of goodness and generosity. The period of Advent offers us an opportunity to reflect on the unbounded love of God , our Father, who has loved us so much as to send His son to die for us and to reclaim for us the right to be called the children of God.

The reading from the Gospel describes the events that make this period of Advent significant and glorious. There is no other better preparation for Christmas than to reflect on the life and teachings of the John the Baptist who was the forerunner of Jesus Christ, our Savior. John the Baptist stands at the door of the season of Advent inviting us to a new life through our repentance. Through his own personal life, through his teachings and penance, he shows a way of life that is open to God though the conversion of our hearts. As the angel Gabriel tells Zechariah, he will bring people back to God.

Zechariah and Elizabeth belonged to the priestly family of Aaron. They were both devout observers of the law. Zechariah was privileged to offer prayers and incense at the evening prayer time in the Temple. It was a great privilege , usually happening once in a life time in the lives of the priests of the time. It was in such a pious and august moment that Zechariah received the announcement that his wife would give birth to a son and that the son should be named John.

The angel, Gabriel, spoke to him about the role John would play in the great story of the human salvation that would later unfold. He would be a forerunner of the Messiah, would bring about conversion in the hearts of people and would be filled with the presence of the Lord.

All these great words of the Angle were more than enough for Zechariah. He prayer for a son to become blessed in the eyes of the Lord as well as in those of the people. He got more than what he desired. His son would forever be associated with the life of the Savior. He was filled with fear. His faith faltered. He doubted the possibility of such great things happening in his life. He was made speechless for his doubt. He had to start again, learning the way of humility and coming closer to God. What would John would preach later in his life, the path of repentance, has begun in the life of Zechariah right there in the Temple.

The qualifications and the role of the John the Baptist would serve as a great reminder for spiritual reawakening in our personal journey of faith. What is required in this period of Advent as we wait for the Spirit of Christmas to pervade us in this season is to prepare ourselves for a life of conversion , avoiding the paths of sin and selfishness.

This period of Advent, hence, is a time to focus on our values of life and perceptions. The voice that resounded in the hills and valleys of Palestine, calling the people to repentance should be heard in our hearts too. We have to question the values and mindsets that are controlling our lives. Our selfishness and arrogance have often separated us from God as well as our neighbors. We need to go back to the basics. What does it mean to be a Christian? Does it just consist in the external observance of certain rituals and traditions or does it involve a way of life that is steeped in love and forgiveness?

In the heart of many Christian families, there is no peace. Where is the conversion that should happen because the presence of the Lord in our lives? Do people who see us recognize that we are different because of our faith in the Lord?

We are invited in this season to wear the mantle of the prophet, John the Baptist, and invite our fellow brethren to a new way of life through the changes that are happening in our lives. We have to become more mellow and compassionate .We have to show that our greatness consists not in dominating over the lives of others but in serving and helping them to become greater in their lives. John the Baptist has very powerfully indicated that his role is not to sideline Jesus, but to allow Him to grow. If we in our public and private lives allow Jesus to grow and shine in our neighbors and members of the family, the changes that will take place in our lives will be dramatic and significant. .


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