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December 8, 1989     The Message
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December 8, 1989

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' 5 % December 8, 1989 ii Commentary The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana ii i I IIII  Mass Readings By FATHER DONALD DILGER John the Baptist. repentance and promise Gospel Commentary for Sunday, Dec. 10, 1989 Se- cond Sunday of Advent -- Matthew 3:1-12 Last Sunday the Gospel looked the second advent of Jesus when he returns as final judge. Beginning today, the Sunday Gospels of Ad- vent look backward to the first Advent of Jesus, his birth at Bethlehem. They also look forward to our annual joyful celebration of the event. This celebration connects us once again with the confu- sion and the submission of the annunciation to Mary or to Joseph, depending on whether we read Luke or Matthew. It connects us with that trip to Bethlehem, the pain of finding no lodging, the joy of birth, the joy of angels and shepherds, the in- quiring minds of the Magi. But before all of the above Advent takes us back to the preparation for the Messiah. John the Baptist is the leading actor in that preparation. John suddenly appears from out of the wilderness. He is dressed in the customary garb of an ancient prophet, a shaggy cloak of camel's hair with a leather sash around his waist. Mark and Matthew describe him in these terms to remind us that John is the fulfillment of an ancient expectation of the return of the prophet Elijah. To make this point the authors describe him with words used to describe the prophet Elijah in the Second Book of Kings, 1:8. His food consists of a low cholesterol diet of locusts and wild honey. Even to this day the wandering Bedouins of Arabia eat this food. Locusts were eaten raw, roasted or cooked. They were also crushed and ground to be put into other dishes of food. Sometimes they were mixed with honey to spread on bread. A modern analysis of the nutritional value of locusts Shows a content of 75 per cent protein, 3.4 per cent fats and 7.5 per cent carbohydrates. They are rich in vitamins and minerals. John may have been thin, but he was well nourished. It is interesting to' note that Deuteronomy 14:19 forbids the eating of any in- sects because they are considered an "unclean" food. However, the Book of Leviticus, 11:22 makes an exception for locusts, crickets and grasshop- pers. If we accept the infancy narratives of Luke we can say that John was about thirty years old at this time, about the age of Jesus. John became a popular and influential preacher of repentance. Those who accepted his message submitted to a baptism or washing in the Jordan River. According to Luke and Mark but not Matthew this washing was "for the forgiveness of sins." Matthew wants to avoid such an expression because he reserves the forgiving of sins to Jesus and those authorized by him. Matthew does however say that the people confessed their sins while being baptized. John's basic message and warning: the king- dom of heaven is at hand. This is his message in Matthew, though not in Mark and Luke. Mark reserves that message for Jesus but calls it the king- dom of God rather than the kingdom of heaven. In accordance with Jewish custom Matthew is hesi- tant to use the name of God unnecessarily and usually substitutes the word "heaven." Luke isn't quite sure what to say about the proximity of the kingdom. Instead he will change the text to say merely that John "evangelized" the people. To emphasize John's message Matthew (and Luke) will adopt the frightening description of John's preaching from the hypothetical gospel we call "Q", the first letter of a German word mean- ing source. When Matthew and Luke agree on the wording of a text not found in Mark we call their common source "Q". The tone of this lost gospel is frequently threatening and condemnatory. In Old Testament language John speaks of judgment coming through "ONE MIGHTIER THAN I." This "MIGHTIER ONE" will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He will separate the wheat from the chaff, (the good from the evil). The wheat goes into the granary, the chaff to the fire. John was preparing the people of his time for the "Day of the Lord," a day when God would judge all people, rewarding the good (the wheat in the ranary) and punishing the evil (the chaff thrown into unquenchable fire). The agent of God who will bring about this renewal, the "MIGHTIER ONE THAN I," is Jesus of Nazareth whom the Gospels now bring upon the scene. Matthew, writing some fifty years later has a message for his own community. The same Jesus who had fulfilled John's promise will soon return. It is this Jesus who will be the judge and separate the wheat from the chaff. And what is the message of this Gospel to peo- ple of our time? The kingdom, i.e. God's rule, is at hand in Jesus who in Matthew promises: "I am with you all days to the end of the age." But we n'e6d to be annually reminded of his first and se- cond advents, the birth and the judgment. Advent is a preparation for both. While we prepare for the joyful celebration of the first, we also keep our eyes open for the second. It is a time of renewal, of return to God through a spiritual washing and con- fessing of our sins. The MIGHTY ONE is coming. Other readings for Sunday, Dec. 10, 1989: Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-9 Letters Continued from page 4 Confused To the editor, Sometimes I wonder how confused people can become in their reasoning ("Anglican Relations" Nov. 24, 1989). Is Ms. Weaver suggesting that the Anglican Church is respon- sible for all the evils of the Medical Arts Pharmacy 3700 Bellemoad0 Avenue Phone 477-1532 Donald Gutzweiler City-Wide Delivery Duncan's Riverside Pharmacy Prescription Service Drugs-Sundries-Cosmetics Magazines - "We Deliver" Corner Riverside and Governor Evansville 422-9981 CALL 424-5536 TO GET YOUR BUSINESS OR SERVICE LISTED world? Has she never heard about the other side of the coin when too many faithful Protes- tant bretheren suffered at the hands of indulgence-selling Catholics? What Archbishop Runcie and Pope John Paul II are saying is "forgive us our trespasses, Thy will be done." I for one, having been brought up in the Angican tradition, would i!ii0000iiiiiiiii!!!iiiii!00!iiiil ii0000i00!i !iiii iiiiiii!ii PAUL'S Pharmacy Paul Mayer, Owner 2170 W. Franklin St. 425-4364 Plaza Pharmacy Newburgh Plaza Shopping Center Fast Pre,crtption Service Ken and Rebecca Hacker 853-7141 HI I Oak Hill Pharmacy Prescription Specialists Hwy. 62 and N. Wetnbach Ave. LARRY SCHUL rHEIS, Prop. 4254422 Stratman's Pharmacy City-Wide Delivery 413 Locust Street John and Judy Stratman 425-5293 like to applaud their joint in- itiative and I pray that their discussions may lead to the fur- therence of God's will (wherever that may lead us) without the shackles and pre- judices dragged up once again in Ms. Weaver's diatribe. May I suggest that it is more important to understand the past in order to know the pre- sent rather than in reverse. Sincerely yours, Tony Noyes Newburgh, Ind. Thank you Dear Editor, At this thanksgiving season, the Washington Support Group for Separated, Divorced and Widowed Men and Women wishes to sincerely thank you for your publishing notices of our singles dances in The Message. This publicity has been Very helpful in making our dances a success by bringing together "single again" persons in our area. We very much appreciate your generous assistance to us and wish you all a very happy holiday season! Members of The Washington Support Group For Separated, Divorced and Widowed Men and Women El Salvador TO the editor; I'm writing in response to the recent murders of the six Jesuit priests and two laywomen in E1 Salvador. The article in the Nov. 24th issue of the Message quote State Department spokeswoman Margaret Tut- wiler who said, "we do not know who committed this bar- barous act." That may or may not be true. I personally feel guilty whenever I hear news of the war there because of the 5 billion U.S. tax dollars which have helped fuel the war and have provided bullets which have maimed and killed so many innocent victims. Sixty- thousand Salvadorans have been killed since 1979. The result of all this money being sent has certainly not been to change the status quo. The rich are still in power. The right wing death squads are still ac- tive. The poor still suffer. The government seems to me to be a democracy in name only as long as the right wing death squads terrorize those who ad- vocate change. Over and over, church leaders have asked the U.S. government to stop sending money to the Salvadoran government. Yet, our leaders continue to listen and believe politicians lik.e President Cris- tiani of E1 Salvador instead of the priest,-,, brothers, sisters and lay people who risk their lives to help the poor. I just don't understand. If we as a nation are truly con- cerned about fighting com- munism, why don't we side with the poor and oppressed in these fighting areas? Why do we continue to believe and sup- port weak and corrupt governments? I want to encourage people who are concerned about this to please call our congressmen and ask them those questions. Ask them to do what they can to put political pressure on the governments we've been fund- ing. Ask them to stop sending money to, support repressive regimes and spend our money on the homeless and hungry right here in the United States. Local phone numbers to contact congressmen are: Represen- tative McCloskey, 465-6484, and Senators Lugar and Coats, 465-6313. Sincerely, Patricia Ryan O'Neill Evansville, Ind. Another interesting bit of in- formation that may shed light on why the U.S. is so friendly with the Salvadoran govern- ment is that 60 percent of El Salvador's coffee is exported by U.S. corporations such as Nestles, Proctor and Gamble, and General Foods. The profit goes to the small, powerful group of elite who rule E1 Salvador.