Isaiah 11: 1-10
1. “The earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord,” Von Balthazar says this is “the drenching of the entire being with the inner understanding of what God is.” Discuss this idea. How does this relate to peace in the reading?
2. The gifts of the Holy Spirit, mentioned in this reading, are received in baptism: wisdom, understanding, right judgment, courage, knowledge, reverence and wonder and awe in the presence of God. Can you relate these to peace in your heart?Second Reading
Romans 15: 4-9
1. John O’Malley, SJ: “Pope Francis is continuously pushing us beyond the comforts of our religious boundaries to encounter the one human family.” Relate this to our reading. Would St. Paul be giving the same advice to the Church today that we read in this letter: “I say that Christ became a minister of the circumcised … so that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.”
2. There are people with whom you disagree. How easy is it to “think in harmony” with them? Why would you think this way instead of just going along with such people, or being nice, or acting like you agree with them?Gospel
Matthew 3: 1-12
1. Judging by John’s appearance, would you guess his cry was lukewarm or a cry from the heart calling for life-altering change? How would you respond to him? Is the fire within you a conflagration or does it look more like a pilot light? How can you gather some kindling for your fire during Advent?
2. Pope Francis summed up John the Baptists’ vocation in three key words: “Prepare, discern and diminish.” Why does he say we also need to diminish ourselves?
John was a man who prepared the way for Jesus without taking any of the glory for himself. … When asked if he was the Messiah, John replied that he was just ‘a voice’ who had come ‘to prepare the way of the Lord.’
The second vocation of John the Baptist was to discern, among so many good people, who was the true Messiah. When John saw Jesus passing by, he said to the disciples, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” The third vocation of John the Baptist is to diminish himself so that the Lord may grow in the hearts of others.… As Christians we too must prepare the way of the Lord, we must discern the truth and we must diminish ourselves so that the Lord can grow in our hearts and in the souls of others.