Fr. Slater’s Third Week of Advent Message
The gospels of the Second and Third Sundays of Advent focus on the figure of John the Baptist. In the first year of the liturgical cycle (Year A) when the gospel of the year is Matthew, the gospels of both Sundays are drawn from Matthew. Similarly, in the third year of the cycle (Year C) when Luke is the gospel we follow through the year, both gospels are drawn from Luke. This year (Year B) when we follow Mark things are a bit different. Because Mark is very short, through the year we will find readings from John’s gospel. This is the case today, as we come to the Third Sunday of Advent. Last week we read Mark’s presentation of the appearance and ministry of John. Today we read from John’s account of the Baptist. As a result of this juxtaposition of the accounts of Mark and John, we find that there are two distinct points of focus put before us. In Mark, we hear of the baptism ministry of the Baptist and his call to repentance, a change of heart leading us to turn to God. We are to prepare the way of the Lord. In John’s gospel however, there is only the mention of john’s baptizing activity. The emphasis is on testimony. John has come to give testimony to the Light. In the gospel before us today, that testimony begins. John is not the one to come. He is but the “voice” prophesied by Isaiah, the voice crying out, “make straight the way of the Lord.” No one recognizes the one to come, who is already among them. John will point his disciples to Jesus so that they might follow Him.
Both points of focus in the presentations of the Baptist are important as we move through Advent. As we saw last week, it is a time to remove the obstacles that would prevent us from experiencing the Lord’s presence. In other words, we were called to repent. Today, we are reminded that we must also follow the example of John and give testimony to the Lord, give witness to our faith. In the darkness of our world, we are to give witness to the Light of Christ through our willingness to share our faith and live the gospel.