Sunday Gospel reflections: What ‘wilderness’ calls to us?

Second Sunday of Advent (Year C)

"The Sermon of St. John the Baptist" by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1566. Photo: Public Domain

As a child, I lacked any real awareness of the busy preparations that made Christmas Day special. As an adult, I know that preparing for Christmas is a lot of work. There are gifts to purchase, special foods to prepare, and decorating to be done. It is easy to become caught up in these tasks. Despite our best intentions to make Advent a time of spiritual preparation, we often forget the “reason for the season.” Today’s Gospel reminds us that during Advent, we need to refocus our attention on nourishing our spiritual life.

Luke tells us that John was in the wilderness when he received the word of God. After this encounter, John went forth proclaiming a Baptism of repentance. John’s example can help us with our spiritual preparations for Christmas. The wilderness is an image for being alone with God. In the midst of the hectic weeks before Christmas, the Gospel challenges us to create our own wilderness experience, to find a way to be alone with God. In the quiet, we receive the word of God and experience the conversion of heart that makes us receptive to God’s love manifested in the Christ-child.

John’s encounter with God drew him into ministry. Our celebration of the Eucharist today invites us to prepare a place in our hearts for Jesus so that we may joyfully proclaim “the reason for the season.”

 — Louise McEwan

Baruch 5:1–9

Pslam 126:1–2, 2–3, 4–5, 6

Philippians 1:4–6, 8–11

Luke 3:1–6

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