Second Sunday of Advent in Year C

Posté par diaconos le 1 décembre 2021

Make straight the paths of the Lord

Deuxième dimanche de l'Avent de l'année C dans Catéchèse 20201206-01

# John the Baptist was a major figure in Christianity and Islam. Historically, his existence was attested to by a passage in Flavius Josephus; he was a Jewish preacher at the time of Jesus of Nazareth. The Gospel according to John locates the activity of the Baptist on the banks of the Jordan and in Bethany beyond the Jordan. Jesus lived there for a time in his entourage and recruited his first apostles.

The Synoptic Gospels synchronise the beginning of Jesus’ activity with the imprisonment of John. The audience of this apocalyptic prophet was so large that it provoked the reaction of Herod Antipas, who, seeing him gather his followers, feared that he would provoke a revolt. In the Synoptic Gospels, the Baptist was killed because he had criticised Antipas’ marriage to Herodias.

In Christianity, John the Baptist is the prophet who announced the coming of Jesus of Nazareth. He baptized him on the banks of the Jordan River, leaving some of his disciples to join him. A forerunner of the Messiah, he is presented in the synoptics as sharing many features with the prophet Elijah. Roman Catholicism made him a saint and dedicated two feasts to him: 24 June, which commemorates his birth, set six months before Christmas to conform to the childhood story of the Gospel according to Luke, and 29 August, which celebrates the memory of his beheading. The Mandaean religion makes him its main prophet. He is regarded by Islam as a prophet descended from ‘Imrān.

According to the Gospel of Luke, John was the son of Zechariah, a priest who served in the Temple in Jerusalem. He belonged to a priestly family. « John is a rural cohen-priest who advocated forgiveness of sins through baptism and not through Temple rites. He was above all a recluse with a proverbial asceticism (Mt 11:18) not without parallels at the time. « His features and morals were quite reminiscent of those of Bannos, whom Flavius Josephus emulated in his youth. From his analysis of the Mandaeans who called themselves naso-rayya (observers) and what the Church Fathers said about the sect of the nasarenes.

Andrew Paul considered that the name Nasoreans (nasoreya) was given to the disciples of John the Baptist. « In Arabic according to T. Fahd in the Encyclopaedia of Islam entry « Sabi’a », natsoraye/observers refers to one of the two branches of the Muslim sect of the Sabi’un or Sabeans, Baptists related to the Elkasaites in the 7th century and considered in the Qur’an to be among the People of the Book/ahl al-kitab. » The gospel attributed to the apostle John locates the activity of John the Baptist on the banks of the Jordan. The practices of John and thand the Essenes have little to do with each other.

From the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke

In the fifteenth year of the reign of the emperor Tiberius, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being then in power in Galilee, his brother Philip in the land of Ituraea and Traconitides, Lysanias in Abilene, and the chief priests being Hanne and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zechariah, in the wilderness.

He went through the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of conversion for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the oracles of Isaiah the prophet: « Voice of one crying in the wilderness : Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every ravine will be filled, every mountain and hill will be made low ; the crooked passages will become straight, the rocky paths will be made smooth; and every living creature will see the salvation of God. » (Lk 3, 1-6)

The ministry of John the Baptist

At the solemn moment when John the Baptist announced that of Jesus, Luke was anxious to mark the place of this event in the history of his time. Hence the precise chronological data. Tiberius succeeded Augustus on August 19, 14 A.D.; the fifteenth year of his reign fell in the year 28 or 29. Jesus, having been born four years before our era, was then thirty-two or thirty-three years old.Some historians thought that Luke counted the years of Tiberius’ reign from the moment when Augustus associated him with the empire, which he did two years before his death in the year 26, and Jesus would have been thirty years old exactly at the time of his baptism ; this way of counting the years of a reign is without analogy in ancient historians.Pilate then bore only the title of steward to the emperor.

In Judea, as in some other districts, this official was in charge of the whole administration.Since the removal of Archelaus, son of Herod, in the year 6 A.D., Judea formed, with Samaria and Idumea, an annex of the province of Syria. Pilate arrived there only a few years before the ministry of John the Baptist, and after a government of ten years (26-36 A.D.) he was dismissed (Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, XVIII, 4, 2)

Herod Antipas, the second son of Herod the Great, ruled Galilee and Perea, with the title of tetrarch, which originally designated the ruler of the fourth part of a kingdom, but which was later applied to small princes dependent on the Romans.Herod Antipas reigned from the death of his father in 4 B.C. until 39 A.D. Philip, another son of Herod and brother of the former, reigned over Ituraea and Trachonitis, to which the historian Josephus (Jewish Antiquities, XV, 10, 1) adds Batanea and Auranitida, provinces situated in the north-east of Galilee, near the mountains of Lebanon. Philip reigned from 4 B.C. to 34 A.D. Abilene, so called from Abila, the chief town of this province which Lysanias governed with the title of tetrarch, was also situated near the mountains of Lebanon.

This Lysanias was often confused with one of his predecessors of the same name, mentioned by Josephus (Jewish Antiquities, XV, 4, 1). It was proved by inscriptions that there existed in the reign of Tiberius a tetrarch Lysanias, a descendant of the ancient prince of that name Luke, after these indications relating to the political state of the world, characterised the theocratic and religious situation of the country.

Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, was deposed by Pilate’s predecessor, and Caiaphas was the sole holder of the office, either because of his kinship with the latter or because the Jews did not want to recognise these encroachments of pagan authority on their religious institutions,

The area around the Jordan was part of the region referred to more vaguely by Matthew as the « wilderness of Judea. » These words briefly expressed the whole meaning and purpose of Jesus’ ministry. All flesh shall see the salvation of God. (Lk 3:6) Luke adopted this paraphrase, which suited his purpose. To see the salvation of God in Gospel times was to see the manifestation of his perfections, his holiness, his mercy.

These words are found in another passage of Isaiah (Is 52, 10). As for its general meaning, the prophecy used the image of preparations being made on the roads for the passage of a king solemnly visiting his states. By this image was described the change which must take place in the heart of fallen man, in order that God and His holy will might reign there: proud and haughty, he must be humbled by repentance ; engaged in the tortuous ways of unbelief or doubt or superstition, he must return to the straight path of God’s truth, of sincerity. Moreover, in the interpretation and application of these images, we must avoid the subtleties in which exegesis or preaching sometimes gets lost.

Links to other Christian sites

◊ Australian Catholics  education Hubs : click here to read the paper → Homily notes: 2nd Sunday of Advent Year C

◊  Paul W. Galetto, O.S.A. - Villanova University    : click here to read the paper →  Second Sunday of Advent

Jesus Acclaims John the Baptist / Come unto Me

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