We reflected in our masses on the Second Sunday of Advent about John the Baptist’s cry being heard in the wilderness of peoples’ lives. We talked about the desire to see the ‘more’ or the ‘better’ than what is on offer in our present. Now we need to think on and ask: what is this ‘more’?
The daily readings for the second week of Advent answer that question: the more is Christ.
During the first half of the week, we see Jesus curing and forgiving sins. In him will people find the healing for which they so earnestly long. This culminates in Wednesday’s gospel passage where Jesus exclaims, “Come to me, all you who labourand are overburdened, and I will give you rest.”
In our personal and collective wilderness, we are invited to come to Christ and exchange one way of life, being burdened by the world’s expectations and our own harsh assessment of ourselves, for another more fruitful life: to take on the much gentler and life-giving yoke of Christ.
Then in the second half of the week, Jesus talks about John the Baptist. In fact, this will lead into the Third Sunday of Advent, ‘Gaudete Sunday’ (Rejoice! The Lord is near!), where John appears again but this time to point quite definitely to Christ.
We are guided by the gospel on Thursday’s mass when Jesus says, “I tell you solemnly, of all the children born of women, a greater than John the Baptist has never been seen; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is.”
The ‘better’, the ‘greater’ is the coming of the Kingdom of God, which Christ brings in his very self.
The whole of Advent is about preparation, of course. The first couple of weeks lays the groundwork of how we make room in our hearts by recognizing that there is more on offer. Then, with the help of figures like John the Baptist, and later Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, and, yes, in his own way, Zechariah, we are quite firmly set on the road to meet Christ at Bethlehem. The Christmas season is then about meditating on who Christ is.
If you can, read over some of the daily readings. They can often be found on the net, or there are still some ‘My Day by Day’ books available in the porches of St Fillan’s and St Margaret’s with the Sunday and daily readings.
What is the ‘more’ you are seeking for?