A special thank you this week to our friends from St. John de La Salle Women’s Guild, Chicago in the congregation.
Second Sunday of Advent
John the Baptist is kinda of our main figure on this second Sunday of Advent, so I’d like to maybe explore a little bit about this very interesting, mysterious figure from the Gospel of Mark.
Now, John the Baptist, as we know is the cousin of our Lord. He left probably his parents at a very young age because remember, his parents were elderly when they conceived of him, miraculously. Elizabeth was his mom. John would’ve left probably in his early teens, maybe even younger and lived in an ascetical life with a group of what were called the essenes. Kind of in a desert community where they fasted, they prayed, they lived a very simple spartan life. After a few years with this group, John would’ve went off and began his own ministry. Probably around the age of 26 is when John the Baptist started preaching. Now that age and that year was what was known as a sabbatical year. A sabbatical year happened every seven years or so, in ancient Israel. During that year, among other things, people wouldn’t work. It’s kinda nice, they would have the whole year off and that’s why we hear in the gospel mark, that massive crowds, the whole crowd of Judea, was there to listen to John because they had sometimes on their hands.
So John, again, from his training with the essenes, would’ve preached a fiery message of repents, of simplicity, and again, of following God with all of your heart, because he learned that. John would’ve been effective at this. That’s why people stayed and listened to him.
Now we sometimes think also John was kind of a wild madman because he had camel fur and his hair was all over the place and he was eating locust and wild honey. Seems like kinda strange food to eat, but John wasn’t crazy. In fact, just the opposite. He was very effective, very smart because again, if he was crazy, there wouldn’t have been these great crowds there and also if he was crazy, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ wouldn’t have chosen John’s disciples to become his own disciples because as we know, Jesus first disciples are amongst John’s followers.
So John the Baptist, he’s effective, he preaches a strong message, and he’s good, he’s solid. He’s a model for us during this Advent season because of all the good things that he did, the strong message that he preached, but most importantly, because he realized that it wasn’t about him, it was about Jesus Christ. That is why he is our model. We must decrease this advent season, Jesus Christ must increase. Amen.