Today, the Prophet Isaiah and John the Baptist call us to dream, to envision a world without divisions and to prepare for God to enter into human history — not as a mighty warrior, but as a tender shepherd. Repentance and forgiveness will lead us all to holiness.

  • To the point: The gospel admonishes us to prepare the “way of the Lord.” What is this “way of the Lord”? It is a life of “holiness and devotion” (second reading), a life of “repentance” and “forgiveness” (gospel), and a life of hearing the “glad tidings” of God’s salvation and announcing this “good news” (first reading) to the world. This is the way John the Baptist lived; this is the way of life into which Christ baptizes us with the Holy Spirit.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Mark 1: 1-8) to the first reading: The “way of the Lord” announced by Isaiah and John will only be fully realized when Christ’s second coming ushers in a “new heavens and a new earth” (second reading). What we do now — how we prepare for the coming of the Lord and live every day — is hastening what is to come.
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience: Regularly we hear news reports about people who do extraordinary things: a firefighter saves a child from a burning building, a parent goes without food to feed the child, or a missionary gives her life for the poor of a third world country. John the Baptist was surely an extraordinary man — from his miraculous birth through his desert living to his being precursor of the Messiah. Most of us are not so extraordinary or different, but nonetheless, we are called to announce the coming of the Lord through our manner of faithful living.

Centering prayers

The Gospel

(Mark 1: 1-8)

People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants
of Jerusalem were being baptized by him.

Now, we, everywhere, ache in holy hunger
waiting for you.  Come to us all, Lord Jesus.
Turn our crooked roads into smooth paths.
Send gentle rain and teeming harvests
of justice and healing. Make all well, and make
each and every one a channel of your peace.

The First Reading

(Isaiah 40: 1-5. 9-11)

“Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.”

The world and all of us within it cry out,
come to us, O Lord! 
Like a shepherd, who gathers
the lambs and leads them home,
hold us close now, and make us safe.

The Second Reading

(2 Peter 3: 8-14)

“But according to his promise we await new heavens and a new Earth.”

O God, a thousand years are like a day
for you. To us one day can seem like a thousand years!
When will you come again? Please do not delay.
Touch our hearts. Be our grace every single second,
our grace and our peace!

Copyright © 2023, Anne M. Osdieck


Music for reflection