2nd Sunday of Advent
Reading I: Bar 5:1-9
II: Phil 1:4-6,8-11
1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiber'i-us Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Iturae'a and Trachoni'tis, and Lysa'ni-as tetrarch of Abile'ne,
2 in the high-priesthood of Annas and Ca'iaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechari'ah in the wilderness;
3 and he went into all the region about the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth;
6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God."
The 15th year of the rule of Tiberius Caesar is about AD 28.
Luke announces the appearance of John the Baptizer in term reminiscent of the Old Testament prophets. By linking this event both to secular history and to Jewish religious history Luke paints a rather bleak picture: Several of these leaders will be involved in Jesus' death. It was a gloomy world into which the good news was proclaimed.
Luke mentions two priests, Anna and Caiphas, powerful figures within Judaism. But the use of their names has a deeper meaning. Anna lived when Jesus was born, Caiphas exercised his office when Jesus died. Luke therefore has these two names span the entire life of Jesus.
Luke begins with Rome, the world's central power. Then, with Judea as a starting point, Luke goes on to list other regions: Galilee, to Syria and to a region above Damascus. With each place we move further north into Gentile territory: Luke actually traces the route that the gospel message will take, ultimately reaching Rome itself.
Jordan: Though one needs water for baptism, this factor does not necessarily explain the selection of the Jordan river. Is there a historical tradition here that John's baptism was associated with a covenant renewal before people crossed over the Jordan into the "promised land"? (Jerome)
A general "baptist" movement existed in Palestine at that time. Many Judaic and Messianic groups practiced some kind of ritual washing, or baptism. The baptisms of these various groups took different forms and had diverse meanings attached to them. John's baptism, as explained by Luke, is one of "repentance for the forgiveness of sin". John the Baptizer were very well known. He made many converts and had many followers.
- A comparison with the gospels of Mark and Matthew reveals that Luke quotes more of the passage from Isaiah than either Mark or Matthew in order to incorporate the promise of universal salvation, "all mankind shall see", that is so important to him and his Gentile readers. Thus Luke signals a major theme of his gospel, the universality of salvation.
One Main Point
John the Baptizer is urging his listeners to turn to God from their wicked ways.
Why is the desert more important than other places listed? Has there been a "desert" in my life?
Living in today's modern society, what do we have to convert "from"?
How are we both like John and unlike him? Who have been John the Baptizers in my life?
Enter Reader's Response or View Reader's Response this week
A synthesis by the Vietnamese Christian Life (Dong Hanh) Community