In the first reading the prophet Baruch asks the people to put away their feelings of sorrow and distress and, instead, take comfort from the loving arms in which God holds them.
In his Letter to the Philippians, Paul takes a similar line: he compliments the people for helping him in his work, tells them how much he loves them and invites them to prepare for that day “when you will reach perfect goodness.”
Finally, in the Gospel story, John the Baptist announces, to anyone within earshot, that the great day is come when “all mankind shall see the salvation of God.”
All three readings share a marvellous insight: people begin to change when they’re encouraged to see the best in themselves. We all need help and encouragement to leave behind familiar ways which may have become destructive, and to imagine the good effect that will have on those around us. What kind of person does God want me to be? What’s His plan for me? In order to change, we need others to prod us on – “Go on … you can do it!”
If our parish community is to be constantly converted to the Lord, we all have to breathe in encouragement, and breathe it out again. Perhaps this Advent we too can try to change for the better, and help others change as well! In the words of Cardinal Newman: “To be human is to change. To be perfect is to have changed often.”
Advent is a time of celebration, a time to remember how God broke into the life of humanity, how He became human, in order to lift humanity into the life of God.
Advent is a time of struggle, a time when we try to to live out the Kingdom of God. When we act with love, justice, mercy or forgiveness, we become living signs to others of God’s Kingdom here on earth.
Advent is a time of hope, a time when we look forward to Jesus’ return in glory. Then we shall see our God face to face. No more weeping, no more sadness, and every tear will be wiped away.
John the Baptist came as Christ’s herald. He came to announce His coming, to prepare the way for Jesus Christ. Some herald! What a picture he must have made … dressed in camel skins, and eating locusts and wild honey. What a weird and wonderful way to announce the coming of God! When we too are called to be heralds of Christ’s Kingdom, we can find some consolation in the fact that God seems to choose the most unlikely and unusual of candidates. We must also recognise that the most unlikely of people may be calling us to respond to the challenge of the Gospel!