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Second Sunday ,Advent,A.Mt.3:1-12

2nd Sunday of advent-’99

Mt.3:1-12

As we listen to the readings in today’s Scriptures, the figure that looms large in our mind’s horizon is that of John the Baptist. He is one of the towering personalities in the New Testament, fearless, commanding and willing to face any power or authority to witness to Truth, but humble enough to accept that he has only a minor role to play. The words of the prophet in all their symbolic meanings and nuances sum up the personality and character of John the Baptist.

The prophet speaks to a people who were heart-broken and confused because of their harsh experiences in exile. Conquered by Babylon, deprived of all their proud possessions, cut off from their God because of their past actions of disloyalty and faithlessness, the people of Israel were in total grief. God feels pity for them and offers them signs of hope, words of healing and the strength of his imminent protection.

God asks the prophet to comfort the people , allay their fears and strengthen their confidence: “ Give comfort to my people…Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.” Isaiah takes up the task and offers them more than they expected. He offers them the most cherished hope of their lives…the coming of a Savior who would keep them eternally in his protection, who would tend them like a shepherd and would gather them like lambs in his hands, close to his bosom. The Prophet sends through their spines the most thrilling emotion they have ever felt in their lives—an undying and powerful hope of a freedom than can never be snatched from their hands. Furthermore, the prophet predicts the arrival of a precursor for the Savior. The precursor would create an atmosphere of harmony and cooperation where differences among people would be annihilated, where the rich and the poor , the able and handicapped and the talented and non-talented will live in love and harmony and will supplement one another in their needs. “ The glory of the Lord will be revealed” in an atmosphere of love and cooperation.

How ironic are these words of the prophet for all of us who live in the present times, absorbing the values of a culture so diametrically opposed to that of the Prophet. For us, still the valleys and mountains are distinct and separate. Our education , our wealth, and our profession make us different and distinct from others who have not enjoyed the touch of fortune and the blessings of a material life. We have no time to care for the less fortunate and we don’t care to associate with them. We have our parties and our net-workings. What a sad picture we have from our lives to present to Jesus who wants to be born in the midst of people who love one another, care for one another, and who are sensitive to the feelings of others.. We try so aggressively to ascend the ladder of success that we forget the needs of our family—our children , wife or husband. We have to listen again and again to the voice of the prophet ---make straight a highway for our God and that every valley shall be filled in .”

Today’s passage from the Gospel opens with the presence of the imposing personality of John the Baptist, calling every one to repentance, for a change of heart in order to be worthy of the One who would baptize them with the Holy Spirit.What John the baptist wants from us is a change of heart , a change in our attitudes and thoughts, a strong decision from the depths of our hearts to be a loving and caring people. Our Repentance should be sincere.”

This is the most appropriate moment for us to look at our lives to find out what is preventing us from growing closer to Christ. Our selfishness, our arrogance, our extravagant desire to be popular, to appear successful in the eyes of the world , our unforgiving attitudes all could be problems destroying our inner peace as well as peace in our families.How ironic it would be for each one of us who professes to be a Christian to appear to be cruel, unforgiving , insensitive and ride roughshod over the feelings of others whether they be in our families or in work places.

There are voices all around us crying for our attention:

Somewhere at this moment a child is crying –crying for love or may be simply for bread

Somewhere a young person is crying—crying for a listening ear or an understanding heart.

Somewhere a deserted wife and mother is crying—crying for the support of a husband.

Somewhere old people are crying—crying for a word from their children.

Today we shall pray to the Lord to help us to listen to these voices, but more than anything else, to listen to His voice , crying in the wilderness of our hearts.

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