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Second Sunday of Advent:-Viva La Revolution

Sunday, December 05, 2010

If we are asked to imagine John the Baptist, I imagine that most of us paint a picture of a wild man: A dishevelled feral figure wearing camel hair, and eating locusts and wild honey barking at the respectable Sadducees and Pharisees calling them “a brood of vipers”. If John the Baptist appeared today on our streets we might feel uncomfortable; we might see him as a bit too much and a bit too extreme. He might offend our sensibilities but what we cannot deny is that he is certainly passionate. He is passionate about the love for God and passionate about his desire that others know God and the love He offers too. 

However this undiluted and honest love of God can and does make many people uncomfortable, because the love of God is so radical and so revolutionary. It cannot be put in a box or neatly arranged on a shelf. John is sickened by the Pharisees' and Sadducees' arrival. Not only because he disagrees with their views but because they have cheapened and watered down the powerful grace of God that has been entrusted to them. They have turned the teaching of the love of God into ho-hum mediocrity. Even with this in mind John does not dismiss the members of the Jewish elite but asks them to “bear the fruit that befits repentance”. He calls them out and asks them to prove that they mean to repent.

This challenge is also given to us now. Just as it was not enough to say “we have Abraham as our father", it is not enough to say now “well … I go to Church, I say my prayers, I’m a good person” and so on and on. We have to prove to the world that we believe, not only by repenting but also by believing in and living the gospel. We have to be passionate about the faith, and in doing so our faith not only changes our lives, but the world around us.

But we are not alone in this challenge. John promises that God will send his Holy Spirit and fire, a fire that will engulf us, giving us life and vitality. The fire that John foretells is not only a fire of judgement but a fire that gives power and energy, a fire that we are called to be part of.

The season of Advent allows us to renew and rekindle our commitment to God’s revolution of love, a revolution that begin when the Word takes flesh. This event makes wolves and lambs cohabiting and bears and cows having a common nursery seem positively pedestrian. Advent allows us to prepare for an event that is groundbreaking and radical, but if we lose perspective the Word taking flesh can become humdrum and sentimental in our minds. Advent allows us to take stock and realise the immensity of God’s love for us. It gives us an opportunity to see the coming of Jesus through fresh eyes. So much so that when we reach Christmas, we can proclaim with one passionate voice "Viva la Revolution!"

Mark Davoren


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