Gospel, Luke 3:1-6
1 In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar's reign, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judaea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of the territories of Ituraea and Trachonitis, Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 and while the high-priesthood was held by Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah, in the desert.
3 He went through the whole Jordan area proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, 4 as it is written in the book of the sayings of Isaiah the prophet: A voice of one that cries in the desert: Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight!
5 Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be levelled, winding ways be straightened and rough roads made smooth, 6 and all humanity will see the salvation of God.
Like the first Christian preachers Luke saw the real beginning of the events that formed the basis of the gospel in the appearance of John the Baptist (Acts 10:37). His witness to Jesus marked the end of the old age of the law and promise and the beginning of the new age of fulfilment (cf. 16:16). It is, therefore, this important event which he places in the context of world history and accurately dates by giving a brief description of the political situation at the time.
World history at the time of Jesus
Tiberius was Roman emperor during AD 14-37, and his fifteenth year was either AD 27-28 or AD 28-29. (Different methods of calculating dates inclusively in Roman times cause the slight uncertainty.)
Pilate was governor of Judea AD 26-36; an inscription from Caesarea gives him the official title of ‘prefect’ (rather than ‘procurator’).
The rulers of the other parts of Herod’s former kingdom are listed, including Abilene in the northeast corner. Although only one high priest held office at a time, two are named, Caiaphas (who held office AD 18-37) and his father–in–law Annas (who had held office AD 6-15 and continued to exercise influence).
The preaching of John
John was both the fulfiller of prophecy and also the last of the pre–Christian prophets. He is therefore described in the same way as an OT prophet (cf. vs 1-2 with Jer. 1:1-2). His coming fulfilled Is. 40:3-5, and his special task was to proclaim a religious ceremony of washing which pledged the forgiveness of sins.
A PRAYER FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS BY ST. GEMMA GALGANI
My Jesus, I place all my sins before you. In my estimation they do not deserve pardon, but I ask you to close your eyes to my want of merit and open them to your infinite merit.
Since you willed to die for my sins, grant me forgiveness for all of them. Thus, I may no longer feel the burden of my sins, a burden that oppresses me beyond measure.
Assist me, dear Jesus, for I desire to become good no matter what the cost take away, destroy, and utterly root out whatever you find in me that is contrary to your holy will. At the same time, dear Jesus, illumine me so that I may walk in your holy light.
JUST DO IT!...
Examine your life and conscience, prepare yourself and search for a priest in order to prepare yourself for Christmas through the Reconciliation Sacrament.
There are also lots of ways to “make his paths straight”… One way is to bring peace to people any time, to make a good deed in order to fight angriness, loneliness or and hungry. Think about these examples; pick one and then go do it this advent season:
Have you fallen out with someone who used to be your friend? Can you forgive them? Is there a practical way to show them that you forgive them? Just do it…
Is there someone in your neighborhood who might be lonely and would appreciate a visit? Perhaps someone who is old or unwell. Take some precious time out to spend it with them.
Serve someone who you might not normally spend time with. Check out for examples of how you could help feed the homeless or take meals to people who are unwell. Remember that the people you serve are just like you. Talk to each one as a friend not as a project. Go as a group or as a family and invite others to come with you.
Be an Advent Activist!