Scripture Reflections – Sunday, December 4th, 2012

Is 40: 1-5; 9-11;  2Pt 3:8-14; Mk 1:1-8

2nd Sunday of Advent

All of the gospels contain stories about John the Baptist, but none of the other three present John quite like Mark does.   All of a sudden, right at the very beginning of the story, “John the baptist appeared in the desert.”   Appeared. Almost as if he was thrust down from heaven on the spot.

Of course, we know that isn’t the case.   Certainly John had a childhood, grew up, spent time honing his message long before he came out of the desert east of the Jordan river to begin his ministry.  Yet Mark captures beautifully the experience of encountering one of God’s prophets.   All of a sudden, coming from a place we didn’t expect at a moment that didn’t seem particularly prophetic or even important – there she or he is.

There’s a joke I heard once about a pilot who, in the middle of a clear blue sky, suddenly sent the plane into a nose dive.  When the plane leveled out again and the passengers had reassembled themselves in their seats, the pilot’s voice came over the PA – “Now that I have your attention……”

God tends to work the same way.  Often God sends us prophets just in the nick of time – and often when our lives, either individually or as a community, seem to be spiraling out of control.   They are usually the last people we expect who carry a message that hits us like a cold shower on a winter’s morning.

When she was about five years old, my daughter became a prophet.   I hadn’t realized how aggravated I was getting every Christmas as I struggled to put up the Christmas tree (how I longed for the artficial tree of my childhood) until that  day when my daughter said – “Are you and mommy going to fight again when you put up the tree this year?”

Let me tell you, that prophetic utterance – along with the help of a kind and generous cousin and a new tree stand –  certainly changed things.

I want to offer you this question as the beginning of your Advent reflection during the coming week:   Who is the prophet God has sent to you during this time to help you reconnect with the  true meaning of this sacred season?

Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)

(Book-length collections of my reflections on Scripture can be purchased through www.twentythirdpublications or at and

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