Second Sunday of Advent B
Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11; 2 Peter 3:8-14; Mark 1:1-8
This Sunday, December 6, is the feast of Saint Nicholas, who gets pushed a bit in the background today so that we can celebrate the Second Sunday of Advent. This is quite appropriate, given our Gospel reading, in which Saint John the Baptist, in the closing lines, steps in the background to that Jesus may be front and center. “One mightier that I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.” This opening chapter of Saint Mark’s Gospel hits the ground running and never stops. The opening lines begin, curiously, not with the ministry or even the birth of Jesus, but instead the work of his cousin John, who was baptizing in the Jordan River. What is it about this man that we should remember today? John was Jesus’ “herald” who proclaimed that the Messiah was very near. He was the last of the prophets, who was sent by God to form a people “well-disposed” to hearing Christ’s message. He was the humble servant who said of Jesus, “He must increase, and I must decrease.” He is not afraid to step out of the limelight and into the background so that people may see Jesus more clearly. It seems that the life of this remarkable saint has a good deal to do with our own lives today. We are called, as Christian believers, to show others that Christ is near. We are to help people hear the message of salvation. We are to allow Jesus to increase in us, humbly letting ourselves decrease, so that our very lives may reflect the beauty, compassion and love of the Son of God. This is the Christian way to observe the season of Advent. Imagine the healing, care, goodness and love that can be experienced by following the great example of John the Baptist…or St. Nicholas, for that matter! Let’s all bring Jesus to the center: of our lives, of our faith, and of our world.