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Second Sunday of Advent:

Let me get this straight. The Gospel says that the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem went out to see John the Baptist at the Jordan. Was John that popular? Am I to believe that everyone in Jerusalem went out in the desert to see John? I certainly do believe this because everyone had a reason. Allow me to give you a little background.

During the darkest period of Israelite history, just before the northern kingdom was destroyed and just after the southern kingdom was sacked, God sent a series of prophets. One prophet came after another in succession during this dark period. The first prophet in this series of prophets was a man named Elijah. He did a lot of great deeds but there was one thing that made him different from all the others. God did not allow him to die. Instead, He sent a chariot from heaven that swept him up to heaven. Why did God do that? I order to understand the reason behind this we need to jump to the end of this series of prophets to the last one. His name was Malachi, and he wrote a book. In the last verse of his book he predicts that the great prophet Elijah, that is, the first prophet in this series of prophets would return to prepare the Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord is a special one-time event. On that day God is supposed to reveal, not just to Israel, but the whole world, His greatness.

Naturally, everyone is now on the lookout for Elijah. If only we knew what he looked like. Fortunately, the Bible describes him. It says that he was a hairy man with a leather belt around his waist who hung around the Jordan River. Does that sound familiar? So when the people heard that there was a man dressed in hair and had a leather belt around his waist standing around the Jordan river, they went out to him, everyone. Wouldn’t you want to go out and hear what someone has to say who came down from heaven? He may have some pertinent information he wants to share. Going out to see John, we finally realize why God did not allow Elijah to die. He wanted to send His prophet back so that the first prophet would also be the last prophet. God was making bookends with his series of prophets. The reason why Elijah is the last is to close out the series of prophets. There is no need for any more prophets. That is because there is no more darkness. That is the message. From now on, our souls bask in the light. No more need for seeing-eye dogs. We are the ones doing the seeing. There is no more reason to fear, no more anxiety. Light is therapeutic, it heals, it restores. This is the faith lesson. Whatever goes on in the world, do not let it take away our gift of light. Spend every day basking in the light. Be someone who is filled with hope, joy, and healing. Live like you are in the light, not in darkness.

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