St. John the Baptist preparing the way of the Lord…



[Homily: 2nd Sunday of Advent – November 10, 2017]

By Fr. Abe Arganiosa

This 2nd Sunday of Advent we lit the Candle of Faith in Advent Wreath to continue the mission of the prophets, that is, proclaiming Jesus the Messiah as our Incarnate God, Lord, Savior and King. Jesus is the Reason for and of the Season. That is what we believe and that is what we always proclaim. Last week we lighted the Candle of Hope to remind us that despite the darkness and problems of the world Jesus is shining as the light of our life. Next week, we shall lit the Candle of Joy to remind us that only Jesus can give us the true happiness which is the deepest longing of our hearts. And, finally at the 4th Sunday of Advent we shall light the Candle of Peace because Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Only in Jesus can we find genuine and lasting peace.

Our Gospel [Mk 1:1-8] presents the beginning of the Gospel of Mark which opens with St. John the Baptizer roaring like a lion in the wilderness, heralding the coming of the Messiah. For that reason, the winged-lion is the symbol of St. Mark’s Gospel. St. John the Baptizer’s mission is to prepare the way of the Lord. That means he has to explain to people of his time that the Messiah coming is God and at the same he has to convince them that the best way to welcome the Lord in their midst is by repentance from sins. The Baptizer fulfilled these two-fold tasks. He declared that Jesus is far greater than him and bear witness to Him with faithfulness until the very end. He died a martyr of the faith on the hand of Herod.

We are being called by the Church to continue the mission of St. John and look at him as our model of Christian evangelization. We need to proclaim Jesus. Catholics must be as bold in manifesting our faith as they are courageous in sharing political views or preference for Basketball or Baseball teams. Parents should prepare their children for greater love of Jesus and teach them deeper personal relationship with Him. We have to prepare the way of the Lord in our family, at work and in every opportunity. This Season, do not be afraid to display the Nativity Scenes and declare the Birth of Jesus the Savior of the World. The best preparation for the Solemn Feast of Jesus’ Birthday is repentance. Thus, we are invited to humble ourselves like St. John and go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Let us confess our sins to the Lord so that we taste and see that His mercy endures forever and His love greater than our sins.

The final and most important person to help us prepare for Christmas is the Virgin Mary. Remember, that before the birth of Jesus God chose her to be the Woman who will give birth to the Messiah – the one who will defeat Satan [Gen 3:15]. The prophet Isaiah prophesied that God himself shall give us a sign: A virgin shall conceive and bear a Son and they will call Him Immanuel, meaning, God is with us [Is 7:14]. Mary is the fulfillment of that ancient prophecy [Mt 1:23]. Thus, when the fullness of time had come [Gal 4:4], God sent the Angel Gabriel to a town in Nazareth… to a virgin whose name was Mary and greeted her: Ave Maria! Hail, Full of Grace! [Lk 1:26-28]. Then, when Mary accepted God’s offer to be the Mother of the Messiah by her Fiat [Lk 1:38] the Divine Plan of Salvation has started and God came down from heaven… God became Man… in the womb of Mary.

We, Hispanic people, love Mama Mary very much. We have a special devotion for her. We call her by special Title: Our Lady of Guadalupe. She is our Heavenly Mother and the Queen of the Americas, Empress of the World. We love her so much, first, because she is the Mother of God. She is the Mother of our Lord Jesus. Second, we love her so much because she loves us too. She came to visit our land; she visited our people in Tepeyac Hills on Dec. 9, 1531. She appeared to San Juan Diego who is one of us and because of that visit the power of paganism was defeated and we became Catholic Christians. Finally, we love her so much because she is one of us. Look at her image that she herself gave us. Look at the Tilma of San Juan Diego. The image of the Virgin Mary is dark skinned like us. Her hair is black like us. She shared the beauty and honor of our race.

More than the resemblance in physical appearance, we Hispanics must look at Mary as our model of faith. Let us imitate her purity of mind and heart. Let us follow her strong faith that is always willing to do the will of God. We too must offer ourselves to Jesus like Mary so that as she gave birth to Jesus, we too can bring out the presence of Christ to others. Mama Mary wants to be like us in appearance; let us also be like Mary in goodness and love.