TEXT: The Gospel According to Saint Mark 1:1-8
There is a Christmas hymn that is popular with Christians during Advent and Christmas time -- "Hark the Herald Angels Sing".
One of my favorite verses says - "Christ by highest heaven adored---Christ the everlasting Lord. Late in time behold him come-- Offspring of a virgin's womb. Veiled in flesh the God head see!-- Hail the incarnate Deity! -- Pleased as man with us to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel. Hark! The herald angels sing, Glory to the new born King."
The theme of this reflection has its focus upon the promises of God and the reliability and absolute trustworthiness of the words of God toward us.
The coming of Jesus Christ DID make a difference, beloved.
His coming DOES make a difference.
And, his Second Coming WILL make all the difference in the world for all eternity!
This is so true these days as we seem to be on the brink of another war in one of the most, if not the most, sensitive areas of the world.
The Psalm said today, "Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation."
It is God who reveals himself to us.
It is upon God we must rely to make Christ known to us.
This is our "comfort," that was spoken of by Isaiah the prophet . . . God speaks tenderly to the hearts of those who desire to know God.
Do you desire to know God?
Saint Peter tells us, "The Lord does not delay in keeping his promise -- though some consider it 'delay.' Rather he shows you generous patience, since he wants none to perish but all to come to repentance." (Second Peter 3:8-14 in context)
God desires to know us, and he does fully, showing us his Salvation, which is Jesus.
God does not want us to forget that he is in control of all of the events that surround us, no matter what everything might "seem" to be from our very limited perspective.
Do you suffer a loss of a loved one -- God understands, because he suffers with us the loss of many loved ones -- how precious in his sight is the death of one of his saints.
God has made provision through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ -- our Bless Hope beloved.
I work in Hospice care weekly -- and I see those whose hope and trust is in Jesus Christ -- I read the Scripture to them -- Scriptures like John 14 -- which speak of not allowing our hearts to be troubled, because we believe in God, believing also in Jesus.
I believe my heart would be hopeless without Jesus -- but let is trust in him who overcame death!
He does not want us to miss the reality of a good life we might have in Christ, a life lived to the fullness of the hope and the knowledge that God is in fullest control over all events and that ultimately God will set all things right and wipe away ALL TEARS!
This is, "Christ by highest heaven adored---Christ the everlasting Lord. Late in time behold him come-- Offspring of a virgin's womb. Veiled in flesh the God head see!-- Hail the incarnate Deity! -- Pleased as man with us to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel. Hark! The herald angels sing, Glory to the new born King."
Mary also told us of these sorrows he would wipe away as we are also her children in this valley of tears.
I do love this Christmas hymn! " Veiled in flesh the God head see!-- Hail the incarnate Deity!"
Ah, Jesus was also veiled in the valley of tears, "Jesus wept." and it was Jesus that commanded Lazarus to -- "arise and come forth," after another Mary and Martha cried out to him who IS our Resurrection and Life!
So many miss this, but, the task for us today is to become better messengers (evangelists) of Christ in the world and "doers of the word" that people might come to have a personal relationship with God through the sure promises of Jesus Christ!
We have this Hope even though we have also the Treasure in our earthen vessels to show us that the transcendent power is of God and not from ourselves.
Daily, I am learning to lean more upon Jesus, beloved... ah, I have not arrived yet... no not yet, but we are on the right Way, Truth and Life.
Mark knows this, as he cooperated perhaps with Mary the Mother of Jesus (and The Theotokos) in the writing of this Gospel --
1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, "Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way;
3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight--"
The cry of God is to speak to our hearts the good news of a Savior, Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary!
I do love the "Angelus" which we say before Lauds and Vespers daily.
L-- The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R-- And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
L and R (divided) -- Hail Mary, etc.
L-- Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R-- Be it done unto me according to your word.
L and R (divided) -- Hail Mary, etc.
L-- And the Word was made flesh.
R-- And dwelt among us.
L and R (divided) -- Hail Mary, etc.
L-- Pray for us O holy Mother of God.
R-- That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
L-- Let Us Pray - Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord, your grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ, your son, was made known by the message of an Angel, may, by his passion and cross, be brought to the glory of his resurrection, through the same Christ our Lord.
Beloved of Jesus and Mary -- children of the living and true God -- believe this to be the Truth.
He came as a Babe that we might become newly born babes and come to know God through this Precious Gift of Life for us!
This is good news for all men, because it provides for you and me and the whole world the trustworthy promise of God that had given Adam and Eve in Genesis, the book of the "beginning." God himself promised the victory in the seed of the woman (cf. Genesis 3:15).
John the Baptizer proclaims the promise of God anew in the fullness of time.
A day is as a thousand years for God. A thousand years is like a day for God. God does not "delay." God deals in the "fullness of time."
Here, the Messenger, John, brings forth the message this 2nd Sunday of Advent. May we hear it well as the message of hope that we have in Christ Jesus!
4 John the Baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
I would remind all who listen that it is our Lady who goes into the wilderness always (Revelation 12).
It is God who brings forth verdure out of the barren and wasteland of sin and death.
Out of Egypt God calls his Son with Joseph and Mary, the Patron Saint of the Church (Joseph) and the Mother of the Church (Mary), the Mother of God.
Here, to the children who would become the heirs of the graces of God through Mary, purchased on the Cross by our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, God calls all to our true vocation in the Church and to the Table set by God that we might all partake of the One Blessed Sacrament.
John calls us to hear the Word of God by repenting from sin and turning to faith in God through the sacrament of baptism. Whosever will may come.
5 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.
God bestows upon all of us a free will to cooperate with the graces of God.
What decision will we make?
Known to God are all his ways from the beginning of creation, yet, we must make decisions in order that we might know of what we are made.
Are we new creations in Christ?
Will we come and be changed, converted, do penance?
Will we come to our heavenly city, the City of God as they did with John -- "they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins?"
6 Now John was clothed with camel's hair, and had a leather girdle around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey.
As I write this reflection, I am looked upon by the world as a strange person, perhaps like John the Baptizer was, because I do not fit into the world's mold as well as others.
I seek God Alone, even while the world, the flesh and the devil, give great toil to my soul as it exercises to do the will of God.
Yet, greater is he that is within us than he that is in the world.
John was child of God who lived the eremitic life (desert) life. He was a hermit brother to our Lord Jesus. He asked nothing of men, but knew God Alone. May we become like him, as we draw close to Mary in that place prepared by God for her in the desert, where the remnant of her seed will be found.
And, here is the message we hear from God, the promise of God so trustworthy!
7 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.
8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
In these days, we find the best is yet to come for the Church.
God has not slackened one "iota" in his promises.
God remains faithful and true, because God in our Immanuel, Jesus -- is the Way, the Truth and the Life!
All power in heaven and the earth is given to Jesus... so, we are called (vocation, my beloved) to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!
This is the work of God. This is the work we pray for in the opus dei, the liturgy of the hours.
The truth is that (with holy St. John the Baptizer) we too are not worthy to stoop and untie the sandals of Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, the truth is that Jesus has paid the price for our sins and our disobedience, and now he calls us as always to the obedience of faith (Romans 1:5) and the recognition and living out of the reality of this hymn of glorious praise -- "Christ by highest heaven adored--Christ the everlasting Lord. Late in time behold him come-- Offspring of a virgin's womb. Veiled in flesh the God head see!-- Hail the incarnate Deity! -- Pleased as man with us to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel. Hark! The herald angels sing, Glory to the new born King."
May we come to know with the whole being we are the truth that God's promises are trustworthy.