Homily for the second Sunday of Advent - Year B - Mk. 1:1-8


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.


"As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, 'Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight (Mal. 3:1; Is. 40:3).' John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel's hair, and had a leather girdle around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, 'After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.' "





Homily:


"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."


At the beginning of his gospel, Saint Mark takes care to announce that it contains the message that he was called to pass on to his readers. It is the "gospel" or "Good News", a literal translation of the Greek term from which comes the word "evangelist". The term "Good News" places us right away in the Trinitarian context, in the mysterious dimension of the Holy Trinity. For the true and unique "Good News" is that of Christ himself, the Word of God made Man.


In God, in the Divinity itself, the Father, who is the first of the three persons of the Holy Trinity, speaks, to himself, ceaselessly and eternally, this Word who is his Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. God "is spirit" (John 4:24), and this divine Spirit carries out but a single divine action: he conceives and engenders in himself a unique Word who fills him completely. This Word who has been conceived and engendered is the Son of the divine person who is the Father.


All of this is accomplished by God in himself, which is to say in Love, for "God is love" (1 Jn. 4:16). In other words, the Father engenders his son in the Holy Spirit, who is the Love of God in person. Now, the Love of God is infinite and without limit. And there was a time when the Love of God overflowed, as it were, from himself and poured out over the world: it was the time of the Incarnation, after which God spoke his Word, not only to himself, but also to the world he had created in his Love.


"As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, 'Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight (Mal. 3:1; Is. 40:3).' John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins."


John the Baptist had been sent by God to directly prepare the People of God to receive this Word, who is the Son of God in person. This is why he speaks, he preaches, he proclaims to mankind the coming of the Messiah: the human word of John the Baptist serves as a preparation for the divine Word of Christ. But John the Baptist's human words alone do not suffice to suitably prepare mankind to receive the Word of God. That which is human is, and shall always remain, inferior to what is divine.


In order to receive the very Word of God, one therefore requires a preparation which is not simply human, but also divine. This divine preparation is none other than the possession of the grace of God, the divine gift through which a man or woman becomes acceptable to God and finds himself or herself in his favor and in his friendship. Thus, it is clear that the complete and indispensable preparation for the full reception of the Word of God consists in purifying oneself of all one's personal sins, those for which one is personally responsible.


"Now John was clothed with camel's hair, and had a leather girdle around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, 'After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.' "


In order to prepare the People of God for the reception of the Word of God, John the Baptist preached a baptism of repentance: in order for the grace of God to fill hearts, it was necessary for sin to be excluded from them. But John the Baptist had to set an example. If he preached repentance, he himself had to be repentant. His entire being had to become an instrument of preaching. The grace of God which was in him could not remain solely inside him, but instead had to be manifested outwardly, visible to all; for John the Baptist's mission was precisely that of preparing for the coming into the world of the Grace of graces which is the Word of God.


"I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."


John the Baptist proclaimed the baptism that Jesus would provide: the baptism of the Holy Spirit. For it is truly this Spirit of Love which purifies the soul through the remission of sins: the Holy Spirit is the Fire of Love which purifies and transforms. In the Holy Trinity, everything is accomplished in the Love of God, which is the Holy Spirit. Similarly, when God communicates to man his divine Word, this is accomplished in the Holy Spirit who is Love.


During this time of Advent, let us therefore prepare our heart to receive the Word of God, let us ask God to forgive us our sins, let us pray to the Lord and ask him to send us his Spirit, in order that our soul might be pure, unstained by any sin, and so that the Word of God might thus come into us and the entire world. May Mary, the Mother of God, intercede for us and may we all, through her, be baptized in the Holy Spirit!




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