Additional Resource Material for this Sunday
Ideal for catechetical and liturgical dramatization of today's gospel.
2nd Sunday of Advent (Cycle C)
A Voice in the Desert
††††††† The entire gospel of Mark, as well as Johnís, starts with accounts of Jesusí life, as preached by John, the Baptist, along the banks of the river Jordan. This is one way of highlighting the link between the prophetís message of justice and the Good News of Jesus.
††††††† The Baptistís preachings, which are contained in the gospel accounts, are searing indictments of injustice and the corrupt situation in the country, starting with Herod himself, the king of Galilee, who was publicly criticized by John. On the other hand, John considered his mission as preparatory for the coming of the Messiah, who was to found a new world based on the equality of all people and the sovereignty of God.
††††††† In order to prepare this new world, notwithstanding his preachings and proclamations, John employed a ritual which became very popular: baptism. People came to listen to him and confess their sins. Afterwards, John submerged them into the waters of the river Jordan. It was a symbol of purgation. Water cleanses the unclean. It was likewise a symbol of rebirth, of starting all over again, leaving behind the ancient world of fatalism and injustice: From the water springs life, which begins in the water. The baptism of John was not a magic ritual. It was nothing without a real transformation in the attitude of those who were baptized. It was a mass baptism. The masses Ė particularly the poor Israelites Ė took to heart Johnís message and got into the water in preparation for the coming of the Messiah.
††††††† John preached and baptized in the desert, along the banks of the river Jordan, in a valley commonly called Beth-barah. This place is presently a border zone between Israel and Jordan. The Jordan (ďthat which descendsĒ) is practically the only river that waters the land of Israel. It comes from the north, near Mount Hermon, and flows into the saline waters of the Dead Sea, the lowest place in the planet, a depth of about 400 meters below sea level.
††††††† John the Baptistís simplicity, as reflected in his food and clothing, made him popular among the people who saw in this sun-burned and uncouth man, the prophet Elijah, who came back to defend his people. Johnís long and dishevelled hair was typical of those who committed themselves to a total service to God: The Vow of the Nazirites, Jdg 13:5; 1 S 1:11.
††††††† For about seventy years, Palestine was a Roman colony. Rome was then the most powerful empire on earth, as the United States is today. Most of the nations during that period were under the Roman empire. For the occupied provinces, this meant occupation by foreign armies and exploitation of the people on whom heavy taxes were imposed, and who were denied participation in decision-making. Rome, the empireís capital, was destroyed about five hundred years after the birth of Jesus. There was great discontent with the Roman domination in Galilee, as well as in Judea. The zealots were known to be one of the oppositionist groups. They were engaged in clandestine activities; some were into the guerrilla movement especially in the northern region of Galilee, where the movement was strongest. The zealots were nationalists, preaching about God as the only king. Furthermore, they were opposed to any foreign power, which was why they refused to pay taxes and to submit themselves to a census ordered by the empire. Weighed down by the burden of paying taxes, the peasants and the poor people of Israel sympathized with the movement and protected their members. Similarly, the zealots had their own agrarian reform program: They declared that property should be distributed equitably, as the social gap was extremely wide. Debts must be written off, in accordance with Mosaic law of the Year of Grace. The zealotsí group was said to have been founded by a certain Jude of Galilee, shortly after the birth of Jesus, when the people began to refuse to pay their taxes. The peopleís rebellion was suppressed by the Romans at the cost of blood and fire. The word ďzealotĒ comes from ďzeal.Ē They were zealous of Godís honor, passionate and fanatic. The ďsicariosĒ were an active group within the zealotsí movement. These were terrorists who always carried daggers (sicas) under their robe, which they used to murder the Romans.
††††††† It was probable that among Jesusí disciples many belonged to the zealot movement. The gospel very clearly expresses this when referring to ďSimon, the zealotĒ (Lk 6:15). Judasí nickname implies his affiliation ďsicaria.Ē On the other hand, the monicker given by Jesus to the brothers James and John, ďboanergesĒ (sons of thunder), and that of Simon Peter, ďbarjona,Ē is attributed by some as referring to the zealots. The word may also refer to the theme of the zealots, and the struggle engaged in by the disciples.
(Mt 3:16; Mk 1:1-8; Lk 3:1-6)
from the book: A Certain Jesus, Vol. 1 (Chapter
This book offers a new approach to appreciating the life of Jesus. The first part of the Chapter is in dialogue form in an up-to-date conversational language. This makes the reader realize that Jesus was once a very ordinary guy, a typical man in his time. The last part of each chapter contains an explanation of the biblical references, thus giving one the perspective for reflection.
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