Saturday, December 09, 2017

The New Exodus: Some thoughts on the Second Sunday of Advent B

What is the "New Exodus?" Let Dr. Brant Pitre (this is a link to his homepage) explain:

"The new Exodus is the expectation of many Jews in the first century A.D. that when God would save his people in thefuture, as the prophets had foretold, he would do it in ways that were similar to how he had saved his people in the past at the time of Moses, at the time of the Exodus from Egypt — which took place around 1450 B.C."

Okay, so this might help us to understand this Sunday's Gospel…and more than that? Help us to bring together, as God surely wants, Jews and Christians together.

Think about this:

Why did John hang out in the desert? No need, on the surface. He could've done his job in the city, with all the comforts of home. And why did he baptize in the Jordan River,  of all places? Water was the only thing needed for baptism in those days. He could've just hung out in the city — where, by the way, most people hung out..who wants to "relax" in a desert? -- and used the water available to baptize.


Because he heralded the "New Exodus!" In the old exodus, our fathers in faith were stuck in the desert for forty years before entering the Promised Land — where? Across the River Jordan! Isn't that a Really Cool Thing to meditate on???

In our Wednesday Bible Study Session, we learned a bit of Greek from Mark's Gospel.

No doubt the deacon or priest will introduce this Sunday's Gospel as "A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark." (At least, I hope he does!) But check out Verse 1 of Sunday's Gospel: 

"The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."

No other evangelist titles his book a "gospel." Mark means that his words — and those of the Holy Spirit — aren't more than just an account of Jesus' life. No! They're also a proclamation of the Risen Christ in which He — Jesus, I mean — is again made present! It's the Good News everybody's been waiting for! (I say this with all respect to Matthew, Luke, and John, by the way.)

Again, from Dr. Pitre — here's where our Greek comes in. :-)

"Other translations will say the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ. The Greek word there is euangelion. Eu in Greek is a prefix that just means good. Angelion — you can actually hear the English word angel in that — so euangelion means good message or good news. We get the word evangelize from that Greek root. To evangelize is to share the good news. So when we use the word gospel, we frequently use it to either refer to one of the four books that are about the life of Christ, or to refer to something that's undeniably true — like gospel truth. But in this context, the book literally begins by saying “the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the son of God.”

"He must increase…I must decrease…"

Once again, Dr. Pitre helps us out here by quoting from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

"When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year…By celebrating the precursor's [The Baptist's] birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: "He must increase, I must decrease."

He (Dr. Pitre) goes on to say:

"So in other words, during the Advent season we are not just putting ourselves back in the shoes of first century Jews, who were waiting for God to come and save them, we are in a particular way uniting ourselves to the desire of St. John the Baptist, who was longing for Christ to come and whose posture towards Jesus was always “he must increase, I must decrease.” This is the basic law of our own spiritual lives, to let Christ increase and for us to decrease so that he might shine brighter and brighter with the light of Advent through us."

To paraphrase one Bible Study participant:

"To prepare the way of the Lord's coming, let's level our own paths and fill our own valleys by repentance, especially through the Sacrament of Reconciliation."

God has blessed me. May He continue to bless you!

Many thanks to Dr. Brant Pitre...his work and other riches can be found at Catholic Productions.