Second Sunday of Advent (Year C): Gospel – Luke 3:1-6
John the Baptist proclaims a baptism of repentance, and in so doing, prepares the way for the coming Messiah, Jesus.
“In John, the precursor, the Holy Spirit completes the work of making ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Catechism paragraph 718).
At the same time, with John, “the Holy Spirit begins the restoration to man of the divine likeness, prefiguring what He would achieve with and in Christ” (720):
The human heart is heavy and hardened. God must give man a new heart. Conversion is first of all a work of the grace of God Who makes our hearts return to Him….This same Spirit Who brings sin to light is also the Consoler Who gives the human heart grace for repentance and conversion (1432-33).
Benedict XVI elucidates today’s Gospel with the help of two sublime Church Fathers — Sts Ambrose and Augustine:
Tomorrow will be the liturgical Memorial of St Ambrose, the great Bishop of Milan. I take from him a comment on this Gospel text: “The Son of God,” he writes, “before gathering the Church together, acts first of all in His humble servant. Thus St Luke rightly says that the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness, because the Church was not born from people, but from the Word.”
Here then is the meaning: the Word of God is the subject that moves history, inspires the prophets, prepares the way for the Lord and convokes the Church. Jesus Himself is the divine Word Who was made flesh in Mary’s virginal womb: in Him God was fully revealed, He told us, and gave us His all, offering to us the precious gifts of His truth and mercy. St Ambrose then continues in his commentary: “Thus the Word came down so that the earth, which was previously a desert, might produce its fruit for us.”
St Augustine comments: “John is the voice, but the Lord is the Word Who was in the beginning (cf. Jn 1:1). John is the voice that lasts for a time; from the beginning Christ is the Word Who lives for ever. Take away the word, the meaning, and what is the voice? Where there is no understanding, there is only a meaningless sound. The voice without the word strikes the ear but does not build up the heart.”
Today it is up to us to listen to that voice so as to make room for Jesus, the Word Who saves us, and to welcome Him into our hearts.
Question for reflection: In what ways have I experienced a call to repentance?