Weekly Missionary Reflection
2nd Week of Advent, 6 December 2020
Isa. 40:1-5,9-11; Ps. 85:9ab-10,11-12,13-14; 2Pet. 3:8-14; Mark 1:1-8
The name of a Jew is commonly associated with the name of his father or hometown. Identity is related to genealogy and geography. But it is not applied to John: his name is associated with mission. His name affirms his job. He is John who “baptizes people” as a sign of repentance and forgiveness of sin. Nomen est omen says a Latin proverb: name is a sign. The name represents the performed duty and mission. They are inseparable. Advent calls us to be true: to eliminate or minimize the distance between the “Christian/Catholic” name that we carry and the concrete conducts that we live.
The background of John’s work is also full of meaning. He works in the “desert”. This setting directly leads us to two “desert journeys” in the OT. The journey of God’s people after experiencing two slaveries: in Egypt and Babylon. After the exodus from Egypt they walk in the desert. For forty years they are raised to become the People of God: only relying on Him in any circumstances. For forty years they have been nurtured to become a nation in joy and sorrow. They walk together, feeling hungry, thirsty, and hot together. They even share the same menu. So, the desert is a school of faith and compassion. That’s the message that remains relevant: Advent is the moment of strengthening faith and increasing solidarity.
The desert is also an intermediary-place: between Egypt and the Promised Land, between Babylon and Canaan. So, the desert is also a spiritual journey from slavery to freedom. After being exiled to Babylon, they are finally set free and return to the Promised Land, through the Arabian desert. Ironically, when John is working, the Promised Land has become a new land of slavery. They are colonized by Rome, and also by sin, both individually and structurally. John invites them to do metanoia: to reverse the mindset and change the direction. It is symbolized by baptism. They are drowned in the fast flowing river of Jordan: they are “dead” to wrong old time, disordered mindset and embarrassing behavior. Only with baptism will they be forgiven by God, and be ready to welcome the coming Messiah. That is the message of Advent that hits me and you too!
John’s clothing and diet also carry a profound message. The garment of hair presents himself as the prophet Elijah, who returns to prepare God’s people to welcome the Messiah. Grasshopper diet and forest honey represent a hard lifestyle, that fits well with his radical preaching demands. Living in the desert also means that John abstains from alcohol. He lives as a Nazirite, who dedicates his life only to God. He is also supposedly not eating meat, as the life of a pious person. His integrity of life and preaching are once again presented. He preaches what he does. Welcoming the Messiah is not enough only by words and ceremonies. Apart from the readiness of the heart and mind, we also need to live piously, resilient and self-resistance, a life that shows our true nature as pilgrims in this mortal world.
(Hortensio Mandaru – Indonesia Bible Society, Jakarta)
DAILY DEDICATED PRAYER
Lord, our Father, I present my today prayer, thought, word, work, joy and sorrow in the unity with Your Son, Jesus Christ, who always presents Himself in the Eucharist for the world salvation. May the Holy Spirit, as the soul of Jesus, also lead and give me the strength today so that I am ready to be the witness of Your love.
Together with St. Mary, Mother of Jesus and the Church, I specially present my prayer to our Pope and Indonesian Church prayer apostles of this month:
For Evangelization intention:
The life of prayer: May our personal relationship with Jesus Christ be enriched by the word of God and life of prayer. We pray …
For Indonesian Churches intention:
Be cautious of consumerism: May Catholic families be encouraged to limiting their consumption to the needed things indeed in order to be willing to share part of their properties to those who are more in need. We pray …
We join ourselves with the Holy Family of Nazareth to achieve the justice with The Friend, Jesus Christ, our Lord. We pray …