Our family are getting ready for a wedding. Alex is getting married. So we all have preparations under way. Certain things need to be sorted out before the bride and groom can walk down the aisle.
In some ways Advent is like preparing for a wedding. We want to be ready to greet the Christ Child in the best way we can. But advent is also about awaiting the return of the King, the Bridegroom who will come at last to claim His Bride.
St. John the Baptist stood at the river Jordan and asked the Jews to repent, clean themselves up, get baptised as a sign of that cleaning up and be ready because the Lamb of God was on His way. John stood on the banks of the Jordan the river that ran from the Sea of Galilee in the north where old Israel had dwelt to the dead see in the South where Judah was based. On one side of the river lived the Jews and on the other was the Decapolis, the ten cities where many of the diaspora, Hellenist Jews lived. One was coming who would bring all Israel together and bring the gentile pagans into cleansing waters too.
John was the last old covenant prophet and his baptism was the last baptism before the sacrament established by Christ came in which we are born again in water and the spirit. (John 3). John’s final action was in baptising with a promise of the final baptism and Christ left His apotles with the instruction to baptise all the nations in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; bringing the world into the New Covenant.
St John was going to die because of his stance on the sanctity of marriage. While in the Temple of Herod the rabbi Hillel was wondering whether a man could divorce his wife for any reason at all, John was preparing the people for a true Bridegroom.
In Divine Office we’ve had the reading from Isaiah where King Hezekiah (who was the first fulfilment of the prophecy about a maiden conceiving and bearing a son) is cleaning house. Shebna, the King’s Steward has shown himself corrupt and incapable of properly stewarding the people. So Hezekiah ditches him and places the keys of the kingdom on Eliakim. He shall open and none shall shut, he shall shut and none shall open.
When the Messiah comes He too cleans house. The Temple priesthood is overthrown (in the mini Parousia it’s more definite 70 AD) and Peter is given the keys of God’s Kingdom. He is given the authority to bind and loose.
That authority is still under the King though. Popes have authority to do only what God wills. It doesn’t matter how much the media and others demand the Church change the laws God has laid down – She can’t. Authority isn’t about doing what you want, or what someone else wants, it’s about doing and saying what is true.
Right now I am fighting the flu. So my brain is more like a pile of mash spuds, so sorry this isn’t very erudite…