• Malcolm

Advent Reflection -- December 13


In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Calaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,

“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness;

‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

Luke 3: 1-6

Luke is providing an historical context, a stage on which can be seen those figures who will attest to the birth of Jesus. Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate, Herod, Calaphas. Luke calls a roll of those leaders who played major parts in events of their times. The men did so while seeking absolute control. Their domain knew them, feared their power, and trembled for the future of Judea. Ancient histories recorded their deeds and remembered their awesome power.

Luke also wants us to recognize John, the Baptizer, Jesus’s cousin and the son of Zechariah. John is the one who provides an indelible background to God’s great gift. Luke describes John almost royally, despite his rough appearance. John’s usual habitat is south of Jericho, high enough in the hills that the Dead Sea was in sight. In this rather barren setting, the community that included John created and placed the “Dead Sea Scrolls,” which include copies of parts of the Hebrew Bible and important religious and historical texts made before 100 CE.

Luke wants us to know each of the men he listed during our Advent journey!


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