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Select Exegesis
December, 4 2012

Second Sunday of Advent (C)

Rev. Timothy P. Schehr

Baruch 5:1-9 Philippians 1:4-11 Luke 3:1-6

Second Sunday of Advent                                                       


            Most of us like to get dressed up for special occasions. Just look around at the stunning outfits at any social this time of year. This Sunday the prophet Baruch has definite ideas about how Jerusalem should dress.

            But we should first say a few things about Baruch. We hear from his oracles just twice in the three year cycle. If asked to name as many prophets as we could Baruch would most likely be the one looked over.

            By tradition his book is listed after the oracles of the great prophet Jeremiah. This is not surprising since Baruch served as Jeremiah’s secretary. There is a fascinating account of in Jeremiah 36 where Baruch reads one of the great prophet’s oracles before the king of Judah. Suffice it to say, the message is not well received.

            Baruch’s message is that God is offering the people a second chance. They are in exile, but God is already getting ready to bring them back to their homeland. This is where Baruch’s words about fashion enter in. Baruch says it is time for them to lay aside the drab clothes of mourning and replace them with brighter colors. He wants to see the people properly dressed for the goods news God he has for them. They will soon experience the glory of God. In this brief reading the prophet refers to this glory six times. In the Bible God’s glory is typically associated with something God is doing for the people to help them on their spiritual journey. This reading is no exception.

            Luke’s gospel has to do with glory too. As the reading begins we hear about the glory of Rome. All the major players in the Judean world make an appearance. At the top of the list is the emperor Tiberius Caesar. Next comes Pontius Pilate, the local Roman representative serving as governor of Judea in those days. Next are on the list are members of the infamous Herod family then ruling in various parts of the empire. Finally Luke mentions the high priests Ananias and Caiaphas. These are the heavy hitters in that part of the Roman Empire.

            Then comes a surprise. Luke throws into the mix a name that does not seem to fit at all. The name is John son of Zechariah. This name would not have mattered to many others, certainly not to the emperor Tiberius and the rest. But John heralded the coming of the Lord who would change everything. The world so cherished by the Caesars, the Pilates, and the Herods would prove powerless against the kingdom proclaimed by Jesus. This fact will be very clear at the end of Luke’s second work where we find that the word of the gospel has reached the very center of the empire of Rome, in spite of all the efforts of its members to silence it.

            Paul celebrates that same gospel in the second reading. He tells the church in Philippi how joyfully he prays for them because they have accepted the gospel. God has begun this good work in them and Paul is confident God will bring it to perfection.

            Paul cannot resist including the content of his prayer for the Philippians. He prays that their love keep growing and that they become even stronger in discerning what will genuinely help them become better servants of Jesus and the kingdom of God. Like Baruch, Paul recognizes the glory of God in all that is taking place. God’s commitment to humanity’s spiritual progress is in evidence all around him. Paul would certainly affirm Baruch’s invitation to dress for the occasion and “put on the splendor of glory from God.”



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