John, the great witness, preaches the truth of Christ to the massive crowds of people that listen to him. These are people who are hungry for the truth. They are tired of the burdens imposed upon them by their own leaders, the Pharisees and the foreign leaders represented by King Herod. The human person cannot be held captive by repressive systems that continue to lie. "A voice of one crying out in the desert: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths'" (Matthew 3: 3).
Why is an obscure figure of the Bible relevant for us today? Why does the Catholic Church, on the Second Sunday of Advent, present John the Baptist for our reflection? Saint John the Baptist commands our interest because he is a witness. By his witness, he reminds us that we are called to be witnesses. And in any age, to be a witness is challenging.The witness of John the Baptist begins with his birth. The miraculous circumstances of his conception and birth direct our attention to the mysterious and transcendent. An angel announces his birth to a woman well beyond childbearing years. His father is struck dumb for his disbelief. As an infant, John, leaps in his mother's womb when he is in the presence of the Messiah's mother. Upon his birth, he is given not his father's name, but rather the name, John, which translates "Yahweh is gracious." With the giving of this name spoken by the angel, John's father, Zechariah, recovers his power of speech. Thus the miraculous circumstances surrounding his beginnings give witness to a sacred world, a world reaching beyond time and space.
Click here to read the rest of the reflection for the 2nd week of Advent.