In the Advent readings we recall God’s saving deeds in the history of Israel and in the coming of Jesus. Our remembrance is meant to stir our faith, to fill us with confidence that, as today’s Epistle puts it, “the one who began a good work in [us] will continue to complete it” until He comes again in glory.” (Phil. 1)
Week by week the liturgy of Sunday Mass teaches us that like Israel in her exile we have been led into captivity by our sinfulness. We stand in need of healing and conversion by the Word of the Holy One as the prophet Baruch proclaims (Baruch 5:5). The lessons of salvation history teach us that, as God again and again delivered Israel, in His mercy, God will free us from our attachments to sin if we constantly turn to Him in repentance.
In a 2008 address to cultural leaders in Paris, Pope Benedict affirmed that the Logos– the Word of God—the locus of Reason calls us to metanoia, repentance – literallymeta-noia i.e. going beyond the mind. As Pope Benedict puts it: the Logos displays his mystery through the complexity and the reality of human history.
Those who are beginning their Catholic mystagogy, their enlightening reflection on the sacraments and the mysteries of the Christian Faith have much to meditate on in the person and teaching of St. John Baptist.
John – the mystagog or proclaimer of meaning – is introduced in today’s Gospel as the last of the Prophets (Jer. 1:1–4, 11). But John is greater than the prophets (Luke 7:27). He’s preparing the way not only for the redemption of Israel but for the salvation of “all flesh,” all races and nations (Acts 28:28) through the mystery of the waters of Baptism.
St. John the Baptist quotes Isaiah (40:3) to tell us he’s come to build a
road home for us, a way out of the darkness, the wilderness of sin and
our alienation from God. It’s the illuminated road we follow Jesus down, a journey we make, as Baruch puts it, “rejoicing that [we’re] remembered by God . . .