Second Sunday of Advent
The “Best” Is Yet to Come!
Today’s Gospel presents the great Advent figure of John the Baptist, boldly making his appearance as an ardent and eccentric preacher in the desert of Judea. He attracted large crowds, proclaiming “…repent! The Kingdom of heaven is at hand…”. Yes, the best is yet to come…Jesus!
John the Baptist seems a very serious person, lacking a sense of humor – a no-nonsense guy. He has been characterized as a Bible-thumping, fire and brimstone preacher, eccentric as he wore his simple camel hair clothes and fed on locusts and wild honey…likely not the kind of person you’d invite home for dinner with your family. He openly proclaimed that the One to follow him was more powerful than himself, and that now is the time to get ready!
And, when you think about it, that’s the way that God often works: God often surprises us with something more than we could have hoped for or imagined. We can be confident about the future, about better things to come, because we can look to the past and see how God has been at work. In the first reading from Isaiah, we hear the prophecy of a “shoot sprouting from the stump of Jesse” – new and luxuriant growth – after the destruction brought about by King Ahaz in his weak and unfaithful rule over the country. Isaiah looked for a human king, but we have the fuller picture in the person of Jesus who proclaimed the Kingdom of Heaven…more than we could have ever hoped for!
Today we look forward to a better future for ourselves and our world. World-wide challenges exist: health pandemics, violence and mistrust, prejudice and racism, a lack of the basics of life, selfishness, major environmental issues, etc. This Advent John the Baptist points us to Jesus and reminds us that “better things are to come…repent, change…the Kingdom is at hand!” Don’t stay stuck in the past; have a change of heart, let Jesus and the Kingdom of God transform our world.
During this first part of Advent – up to December 16 – the Church helps us focus on the 2nd coming of Jesus, when God will bring all creation to “perfection”. Today we’re in touch with our need for a Savior, both now and in the future. John the Baptist challenges us to be hope-filled, confident in God’s ongoing love and mercy. God does much more than make promises – the best…Jesus… is yet to come!
Together, as God’s family we pray: Come, O come, Emmanuel!
Fr. John Schork, C.P. serves as the Province Vocation Director and also as Local Superior of the Passionist Community of Holy Name in Houston, Texas.