Extracted from the letter of Saint Paul to the Philippians 1:4-6,8-11:
Every time I pray for all of you, I pray with joy, remembering how you have helped to spread the Good News from the day you first heard it right up to the present.
I am quite certain that the One who began this good work in you will see that it is finished when the Day of Christ Jesus comes; and God knows how much I miss you all, loving you as Christ Jesus loves you.
My prayer is that your love for each other may increase more and more and never stop improving your knowledge and deepening your perception so that you can always recognise what is best.
This will help you to become pure and blameless, and prepare you for the Day of Christ, when you will reach the perfect goodness which Jesus Christ produces in us for the glory and praise of God.
Extracted from the holy Gospel according to Luke 3:1-6:
In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesars reign, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judaea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of the lands of Ituraea and Trachonitis, Lysanias tetrach of Abilene, during the pontificate of Annas and Caiaphas the word of God came to John son of Zechariah, in the wilderness.
He went through the whole Jordan district proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the sayings of the prophet Isaiah:
A voice cries in the wilderness:
Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.
Every valley will be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low,
winding ways will be straightened and rough roads made smooth.
And all mankind shall see the salvation of God.
On the 2nd Sunday of Advent (Year C), 9 December 2012, the following were the Holy Mass Readings:
1st Reading: Baruch 5:1-9 (see previous page);
Responsorial: Psalm 126:1-6 (see Encouragements-27);
2nd Reading: Philippians 1:4-6,8-11 (see above) &
Gospel Reading: Luke 3:1-6 (see above).
We have extracted the Homily of Blessed Pope John Paul II based on the aforesaid Readings to share with you:
JUBILEE OF CATECHISTS AND RELIGION TEACHERS
HOMILY OF JOHN PAUL II
Sunday, 10 December 2000
1. "Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight" (Luke 3: 4). Today John the Baptist speaks to us in these words. In a certain sense, his ascetic figure embodies the meaning of this time of expectation and preparation for the Lord's coming. In the desert of Judea he proclaims that the time has come for the fulfillment of the promises and that the kingdom of God is at hand: it is therefore urgent to forsake the ways of sin and believe in the Gospel (cf. Mark 1: 15).
What figure could be more fitting for your Jubilee than John the Baptist, dear catechists and Catholic religion teachers? I extend an affectionate greeting to all of you who have come from different countries representing many particular Churches. I thank Cardinal Darνo Castrillσn Hoyos, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, and your two representatives for the kind words they addressed to me in the name of you all at the beginning of this celebration.
2. In the Baptist you are rediscovering today the fundamental features of your ecclesial service. By taking him as your model, you are encouraged to examine the mission entrusted to you by the Church. Who is John the Baptist? First of all he is a believer personally committed to a demanding spiritual journey, consisting of attentive and constant listening to the Word of salvation. He also bears witness to a way of life that is detached and poor; he shows great courage in proclaiming God's will to everyone, even to its ultimate consequences. He does not yield to the easy temptation to take a prominent role, but humbly lowers himself to exalt Jesus.
The catechist must be a voice that refers to the Word, a friend who leads to the Bridegroom. And yet, like John, he too is indispensable in a certain sense, because the experience of faith always needs a mediator who is also a witness. Who among us does not thank the Lord for an effective catechist - a priest, a man or woman religious, a lay person - to whom we owe our first practical and engaging explanation of the Christian mystery?
3. Your work, dear catechists and religion teachers, is more necessary than ever and requires on your part constant fidelity to Christ and to the Church. For all the faithful have a right to receive from those who, by office or mandate, are responsible for catechesis and preaching answers that are not subjective, but correspond with the Church's constant Magisterium, with the faith that has always been taught authoritatively by those appointed teachers and lived exemplarily by the saints.
In this regard, I would like to recall here the important Apostolic Exhortation Quinque iam anni which the Servant of God Pope Paul VI addressed to the Catholic Episcopate five years after the Second Vatican Council, that is, exactly 30 years ago on 8 December 1970. He, the Pope, denounced the dangerous tendency to reconstruct, on psychological and sociological foundations, a Christianity uprooted from the uninterrupted Tradition that goes back to the faith of the Apostles (cf. Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, VIII , 1420). It is your task, dear friends, to collaborate with the Bishops, so that the necessary effort to make the message understandable to the men and women of our time will never betray the truth and continuity of the doctrine of the faith (cf. ibid., 1422).
However, an intellectual knowledge of Christ and his Gospel is not enough. For believing in him means following him. Therefore we must learn from the Apostles, from the confessors of the faith, from the saints of every age who helped to spread Christ's name and to make it loved by the witness of a life generously and joyously spent for him and for their brethren.