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Second Sunday of Advent (Year C) 9th December 2018

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke: 3: 1 - 6
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 lands of Ituraea and Trachonitis, Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the pontificate of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah, in the wilderness. He went through the whole Jordan district proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the sayings of the prophet Isaiah:
A voice cries in the wilderness;
Prepare a way for the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley will be filled in,
every mountain and hill be laid low,
winding ways will be straightened,
and rough roads made smooth.
And all mankind shall see the salvation of God



CLOTHED IN CHRIST


If you ever watched an award ceremony, you are probably familiar with the fascination
many have for the fashions worn by the stars. As each takes a turn in the spotlight the question arises: 'What are they wearing?"
On the Second Sunday of Advent, the prophet Baruch (Bar 5: 1-9) poses this same
question to all those who are preparing for the coming of Christ: What are you wearing? Our
response to this question will reveal the authenticity of our desire to recognise and welcome the comings of Jesus we heard about in the liturgy last week. During their long wait for the promised Messiah, the ancient Israelites went through several changes of clothes: their 'spiritual wardrobe' reflected their circumstances as well as their interior posture towards God. For instance, in the time of the patriarchs, the Hebrew tribes wore the garb of the nomad. When they were forced to work at brick-making in Egypt, they were clad as slaves.
After their liberation and during their desert trek to the land of God's promise, the people of Israel wore the dress of
the new bride. Tempted by the false gods and their cults, the Israelites were, at times, unfaithful to their divine
covenant. But even when they wore the dress of the harlot, God was willing to forgive them, take them back and clothe
them once again in holiness and love. Such was the situation that prompted the invitation of Baruch that is preserved
in today's first reading. Having been pummelled by her persecutors, Jerusalem wore, for a long time, the robes of
mourning and misery. Baruch, who authored this text, was Jeremiah's secretary and his references are to the
Babylonian exile. It was a call to leave behind their widow's weeds and be dressed anew in glory and integrity.
In today's Gospel (Luke 3: 1-6), John the Baptist celebrates that intervention by inviting his contemporaries to
prepare themselves to welcome the salvation of God in the person and through the ministry of Jesus. John proclaimed
a baptism whereby sinners would cast off their sin-stained rags and don the robes of repentance. Jesus preached a
baptism that initiated believers into the very life of God. Washed clean by the blood of Jesus, the redeemed are to put
on Christ and live in holiness and wholeness of life.
The 14th century mystic Julian of Norwich described the coming of Christ in flesh and blood as having put on our human tunic 'aged with sweat and his body, close-fitting and threadbare'. Because of Jesus' actions, said Julian, we have received a merciful exchange - the cloak of Christ that envelopes us with endless love. Not only are we privileged to be clothed with Christ, but we are his crown. Dressed with Christ, we are blessed with dignity and grace that we are to preserve and protect, not only for ourselves but with all those who are similarly clothed, blessed and graced.
One day we will all be asked the question - 'What are you wearing?' Will we say with our words and our works and our wardrobe that we have indeed put on the Lord Jesus?

Kevin Lyon
Archdeacon of Glendalough


 


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