Isaiah 49:3, 5-6; Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10; 1 Corinthians 1:1-3; John 1:14a, 12a; John 1:29-34
God’s word invites us to know Jesus in three ways: first, as the servant the prophet Isaiah describes; second, as the Lamb of God, as
John the Baptist calls him, who takes away the sins of the world; and finally and most importantly, as the Son of God. Isaiah’s servant has been formed from the womb not only to bring God’s people back to God, but also to be a light to the nations. Jesus fulfills this prophecy by his suffering and dying for us and for all peoples. He is truly the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and restores us to God as beloved sons and daughters. A disciple of Jesus is one who learns from Jesus by being with Jesus. In learning who Jesus is, we learn who we are called to be.
Like John the Baptist in today’s Gospel, we are to bring others to the Lord by how we live our lives and by a willingness to speak about our faith in him and the difference he has made in our lives. Do you see yourself as a true disciple of Jesus? How do you spend time with him?
Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7; Psalm 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10 (R/. 11b); Acts 10:34-38; cf Mark 9:7; Matthew 3:13-17
Today, the Christmas season comes to a close with another epiphany of Jesus as God’s beloved Son. The importance of Jesus’ baptism is underlined in that the first three Gospels directly describe it, and John’s Gospel mentions it as having already happened. Why did Jesus need to be baptized? John the Baptist asks this himself in Matthew’s account. Jesus responds by saying, “To fulfill all righteousness.” Scholars interpret this remark as showing Jesus’ solidarity with sinners, those for whom he had been sent, even though he himself did not sin.
The central moment occurs when Jesus is coming out of the water. The Holy Spirit descends upon him, and, in Matthew only, the Father announces, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” More than a public service announcement for those present then, it proclaims to us now, Jesus is the Son of the Father.
He will go from this event to be tempted in the desert, and then into his ministry of preaching, teaching, healing, and casting our demons. As we return to Ordinary Time, consider what tasks God has given to us.
Do you see your Baptism as rooting you in a life of service?
Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10; Psalm 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10 (R/. cf. Isaiah 35:4); James 5:7-10; Isaiah 61:1 (cited in Luke 4:18); Matthew 11:2-11
Isaiah is the prophet of joy in Advent. He pictures a dry desert that will blossom and flower when the Lord comes. He then images the healing that the Lord will also bring: feeble hands strengthened, weak knees made firm, blind eyes opened, deaf ears made clear, the lame leaping, and the mute singing for joy. This is the jubilation that accompanies the coming of the Lord. God wants all of us to have fullness of life. It will surely come in God’s good time. Even now, we get a taste of it, knowing that by our Baptism, we have entered into the life of the Trinity, and by receiving the Eucharist, we enter into communion with the Lord and each other.
For the fullness of joy, we must wait patiently, as James reminds us, not complaining but with hearts trusting in God’s promises. The rest is only a matter of time. While Jesus praises John as more than a prophet, nevertheless he concludes by saying, “Yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Even now we are children of the kingdom.
How have you known the joy that is a gift of the Holy Spirit?
An excellent homily for the 2nd Sunday of Advent, Year A, from Father John Reutemann of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, titles “Bare Minimum Checklist for Heaven.” Do these things, and you will go to heaven!
Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17 (R/. cf. 7); Romans 15:4-9; Luke 3:4, 6; Matthew 3:1-12
Advent is a season that set before us visionaries like the poet-prophet Isaiah, the preacher-missionary Paul, and the herald-prophet John the Baptist. Each offers us a vision of God’s good creation coming together in unity. For Isaiah, it is all creation – human and animal; for Paul, it is the church in Rome “thinking in harmony with one another;” for John it is the Promised One coming to gather the good wheat into his barn, God’s harvest, which is the children of the kingdom.
We are brought together each Sunday to think, live, pray, and sing in harmony to the gracious God who continues to come to us in Jesus Christ, the One who came in the power of the Holy Spirit, an who continues to come in God’s Word and in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The risen Lord draws us more deeply into communion with the Father and with one another.
How can you help bring about God’s dream for a renewed and unified creation?