Preacher’s Sketchbook: Second Sunday of Advent

December 3, 2012

Each week, a Dominican member of the Province of St. Joseph’s Preaching Advisory Board prepares this Preacher’s Sketchbook in anticipation of the upcoming Sunday Mass. The idea of the Preacher’s Sketchbook is to take quotations from the authority of the Church–the Pope, the Fathers of the Church, documents of the Councils, the saints–that can help spark ideas for the Sunday homily. Just as an artist’s sketchbook preserves ideas for later elaboration, so we hope the Preacher’s Sketchbook will provide some ideas for homiletical elaboration.


St. Inenaeus of Lyons, Against the Heresies

There is therefore one and the same God, the Father of our Lord, who also promised through the prophets to send the Forerunner. His salvation, that is, His Word, He made visible to all flesh, Himself becoming incarnate, in order that their king might become visible in all things. For it is necessary that those who are judged should see their Judge and should know Him by whom they are to be judged; and it is proper that those who obtain glory should know Him who bestows on them the gift of glory.

St. Augustine, Sermon 31

For what reason does the just man cry? First of all, for all these. The just man, you see, cries truly over those who are crying fruitlessly. He cries about those who cry and he cries about those who laugh, because those who cry are crying pointlessly about pointless things, and those who laugh about pointless things are laughing to their own undoing. He cries all the time, so he cries the most. But they will come with merry-making, carrying their sheaves. So do you see how the just man is cheerful when he does a good deed? Oh certainly, he grows cheerful, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7). So when does he cry? When he commends his good deeds to God in his prayers.

Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth

The conclusion of Deuteronomy returns to the promise and gives it a surprising twist that takes it far beyond the institution of prophecy. In so doing, it gives the figure of the prophet its true meaning. “And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses,” we read, “whom the Lord knew face to face” (Deut 34:10). A curious melancholy hangs over this conclusion of the fifth book of Moses. The promise concerning “a prophet like me” has not yet been fulfilled. And it now becomes clear that these words do not refer simply to the institution of prophecy, which in fact already existed, but to something different and far greater: the announcement of a new Moses. It had become evident that taking possession of the land in Palestine did not constitute the chosen people’s entry into salvation; that Israel was still awaiting its real liberation; that an even more radical kind of exodus was necessary, one that called for a new Moses.

Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth

The emperor [Tiberius Caesar] and Jesus represent two different orders of reality. They are by no means mutually exclusive, but their encounter does have the potential to spark a conflict that has implications for the basic questions facing humanity and human existence… When the imperial power interprets itself as divine, as Augustus’ claim to be the bringer of world peace and the savior of humanity already implicitly does, then the Christian has to “obey God more than men” (Acts 5:29). It is then that Christians become “martyrs,” witnesses of Christ, who himself was “the faithful witness” who died on the Cross under Pontius Pilate (Rev 1:5). Luke’s mention of Pontius Pilate casts the shadow of the Cross over the beginning of Jesus’ public activity. The names Herod, Annas, and Caiaphas also foreshadow the Cross.

Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth

We can imagine the extraordinary impression that the figure and message of John the Baptist must have produced in the highly charged atmosphere of Jerusalem at that particular moment in history. At last there was a prophet again, and his life marked him out as such. God’s hand was at last plainly acting in history again. John baptizes with water, but one even greater, who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire, is already at the door.

Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives

John, who will be filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb (cf. Lk 1:15), lives permanently, as it were, “in the tent of meeting:” he is a priest not only at certain moments, but with his whole existence, and in this way he proclaims the new priesthood that will appear with Jesus.



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