John The Baptist Prepares Us For Christmas

Sunday of Week 2 in Advent

Mark 1:1-8

Zachary, the father of John the Baptist, perfectly summed up his son’s calling at his naming ceremony when he said, “You shall go ahead of the Lord to prepare His ways before Him, to make known to His people their salvation through forgiveness of all their sins, the loving kindness of the heart of our God who visits us like the dawn from on high.”

After being under the influence of his saintly parents, Zachary and Elizabeth, he started the preparation for the mission that was to be his life. He went into the desert to be taught by God while living the life of a hermit.

In the past God had spoken to His people through prophets. But He had been silent for a few hundred years. Now He was to break His silence and speak through the greatest of the Old Testament prophets, John the Baptist, who had been assured by the Holy Spirit that God was about to fulfil His promise, and send the Israelites their long awaited Messiah. Thousands came to the banks of the Jordan to confess their sins and to be baptised. John's message was a stern uncompromising and uncomfortable calling to repentance. If his followers were to be ready to greet their Messiah they needed a complete change of heart, to mend their ways, to be truly sorry for their sins and to accept a baptism for the remission of their sins.

The Church, in our preparation for Christmas, can give us no better person than John the Baptist to inspire us. If he was good enough to prepare his people spiritually for Christ’s coming in Person, he is good enough for us today. Just as he called people to repent of all their sins then, he sends to us the very same message now. What better way can we prepare for the spiritual coming of Christ again this Christmas than by approaching the Sacrament of Reconciliation after we have taken a really good look at ourselves. What are our priorities? Is God the centre of our lives? Does our work mean more to us than the love of our families? How do we relate to our fellow human beings in need? Is each of us an instrument of peace in our lives, bringing joy and not causing misery to anyone? Let us make a sincere Confession to get our hearts ready for the coming of our Lord.

In our preparations for Christmas we put a lot of thought into giving the right presents to our loved ones. But let us not forget the One Whose birthday it is that we are actually celebrating and Who wants the best present we can give Him … a loving and unselfish heart at our Christmas Mass and through to the Epiphany and beyond.

Lord Jesus, help me to heed the words of John the Baptist in preparing my heart and soul for Your coming.