2nd Sun Advent C
The Commentaries Summarised
As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.
This Sunday's Commentary
For the third time in his Gospel, Luke dates an event according to the reigns of political leaders. The announcement to Zechariah of John’s birth had been dated according to the reign of Herod, the birth of Jesus according to the reign of Augustus Caesar but this third dating is complex and prolix. Six figures are named, some not even figures of local political power, two are Jewish religious leaders. This renders the opening heavily loaded yet this detailed naming of the political and religious leaders current at the time of John’s preaching is just a prelude to the sentence proper; ‘the Word of God came to John, son of Zechariah in the wilderness.’ The phrase ‘the word of God came’ has strong echoes in the Old Testament where it was frequently used of the preaching of the prophets. Yet, significantly, this is the only use of such a term in the New Testament. With John, the old dispensation is coming to a close. He is the herald of the new. The coming of such teaching in the wilderness reminds the readers of the time of Israel’s formation in the wilderness. The world order of Roman Empire and Jewish religious leadership will have their part to play in the new transformation but ultimately it is the word of God that will have the decisive power.
When John proclaims a baptism of repentance, he is calling for something new, something that his listeners would have been unfamiliar with. To explain it, he uses words from Second Isaiah, prophecies that were proclaimed to console the Jews when they were in exile. Now they are used as words of hope to prepare the people for the imminent arrival of the Messiah.