2ND SUNDAY OF ADVENT YEAR B ON DECEMBER 6, 2020 (R. 1: Isaiah 40: 1-5, 9-11; Psalm 85: 9-10, 11-12, 13-14; R. 2: 2 Peter 3: 8-14; Gospel: Mark 1: 1-8)
FR EMMANUEL INEDU OCHIGBO
LOOK INTO THE MIRROR!
Have you ever seen an elephant drinking water from a pond, a lake or a reservoir? I have never seen one, but as a little boy growing up, I was once told that when an elephant goes to drink water from a pond, the first thing the elephant does is to disturb and unsettle the water. The reason is that when the water is still, the surface of the water acts like a mirror and so when the elephant sees its own image, it is like a wild animal coming out of the water to fight the elephant. As such, in order to get the “wild animal” in the water out of the way, the elephant unsettles the water.
Today is the Second Sunday of Advent. Mark begins his account of the Gospel with the words, “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.” Gospel means “Good News.” Let us place it in its historical context. At the time that Mark was writing his account of the Gospel, the word “Gospel” was used in a different sense, it was the word used to announce the news of the birth of the emperor or news of victories. Such news brought hope, peace, well-being, and happiness. In using the same word, gospel, Mark wanted Christians to understand that real happiness and salvation no longer come from the birth of the emperor or victories won by the emperor, but that the real Good News is the salvation for all, proclaimed by Jesus Christ.
The season of Advent prepares us for the reception of this Good News personified in Jesus Christ. In fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaiah in the first reading, John the Baptist invites all of us to the desert to prepare for the reception of the Good News that will be born on Christmas Day. Which desert are we talking about? It is the desert of looking into the mirror; it is the desert of avoiding all the distractions around us and coming to terms with my current image. Many times, we are like the elephant, we are afraid of the person we see in the mirror, and so we make a lot of noise to scare that image away. Do you know why gossip seems to be so sweet? It is because it keeps that image in the mirror away from us. When we spend time talking about other people, we hardly have the time to examine ourselves, to go through the rigors of leveling our mountains and filling up our valleys.
This is the season to go to the desert, this is the season to work on ourselves. When you read your Bible or listen to preaching, do not do so on behalf of someone else – My husband should have been here to listen to this message so he can see why he should stop going to all those bad places – My wife should listen to this homily and see why she should stop all the bad words – I know Father is preaching about my neighbor, someone must have told Father how bad my neighbor is. John the Baptist is calling on us to leave others alone and go to the desert to keep our paths straight. Think of how to become a better member of your family, of this community, and of the world. Take a break from preparing others and work on yourself in this season of Advent.
In John the Baptist, we see the qualities we need to cultivate as we prepare for Christmas. In John the Baptist we see a good example of humility, the kind of humility that reminds us of our unworthiness and our need to grow to perfection. It calls us to do away with self-centeredness, pride, ego and unholy ambitions. John the Baptist was tempted by the crowd as they were fixated on him, trying to make him the center of attraction, but he immediately redirected them to Jesus. He told the crowd that a greater one was coming whose sandals he would not be worthy to untie.
Let us join John the Baptist in the desert, to avoid distractions, and to grow in true self-knowledge. As we move on to the liturgy of the Eucharist, we pray that the blood of Jesus may purify us of all our sins, so that when we look into the mirror, we may see the original image in which we were made, the image of God, through Christ our Lord. Amen.