The Lord's Day At Home

If you are housebound or self-isolating at this time, please use these prayers to unite yourself with the worship of the Universal Church, and your own Parish, this Sunday. If alone, read or say these prayers quietly to yourself. If with another, or in a family, someone should read the Gospel, and others respond. It might be suitable to find a special, quiet place at home for your Sunday prayers.

Gospel Mark 1:1-8

The beginning of the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is written in the book of the prophet Isaiah: “Look, I am going to send my messenger before you; he will prepare your way. A voice cries in the wilderness: Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.” And so it was that John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. All Judaea and all the people of Jerusalem made their way to him, and as they were baptised by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins. John wore a garment of camel-skin, and he lived on locusts and wild honey. In the course of his preaching he said, ‘Someone is following me, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals. I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.’

Reflection

Cribs – or Mangers or Nativity Scenes – comes in all shapes, styles and sizes, from the tiniest that can be contained in a matchbox to life size versions in Cathedrals and public squares. But though they are all different, they all have the same “cast”: Mary and Joseph, the baby, one or more shepherd with assorted sheep, an ox and an ass, and probably three wise men with at least one camel. One figure that you are not likely to see in a nativity scene is John the Baptist. Now while this is entirely understandable (since he was only a six-month-old baby himself when Jesus was born) we welcome John the Baptist into our Advent journey this week and next. Every year he fills up two Sundays so close to Christmas! He is calling us to recognise something important: Christmas is not just the birth of a baby, but the birth in the flesh of the One who is to come – the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, the one who baptises with fire. There are many people who will gaze at a crib this season and feel sweet and moving thoughts at the baby born in such circumstances – but are we willing to look where John points, and see beyond the baby to the mighty God of heaven who empties himself for us? And if we can glimpse that, what must we do to prepare his ways, to make his paths straight?