Thursday of the Fourth Week of Advent
Reading 1: Malachi 3:1-4; 23-24
Responsorial Psalm: PS 25:4-5; 8-10; 14
“Lift up your heads and see; your redemption is near at hand.”
Gospel: Luke 1:57-66
Luke 1:66 – “For surely the hand of the Lord was with him”
Today’s Gospel reflects on the pivotal figure of John the Baptist. It’s fair to say that you cannot really understand Jesus without understanding John, which is precisely why all four gospels tell the story of John the Baptist as a kind of overture to the story of Jesus. John sums up Israel, and without the Israelite background, the story of Jesus becomes opaque.
The story of John’s birth brings his parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, into focus. Both are strongly priestly people. Elizabeth is a descendant of the family of Aaron, the first priest of Israel, and Zechariah was a practicing temple priest.
What’s important for our purposes is that John was of very priestly stock. So why, when we first hear of him in his adult life, is he out in the desert and not in the temple? Well, there was a long prophetic tradition that criticised the temple for its corruption. In John’s time, the temple was mired in very messy, vile, and violent politics. So what is he doing in the desert? He is offering what the temple ought to be offering but wasn’t, due to its corruption, namely, the forgiveness of sins.
Pray for all our Parish Priests today. Thank God for their spiritual guidance.
With thanks to Holy Name of Mary Parish, Hunters Hill, who have supplied these daily Advent and Christmas 2021 reflections from their publication Daily Inspirations of Faith: A Season of Prayer – Advent to Epiphany 2021-22.