‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight’ (Mt. 3:3) ⧾
The Gospel of the Mass on this second Sunday of Advent introduces us to John the Baptist, the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’ John the Baptist calls us and all people to repentance; that even the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy (Rom. 15:9). St. Matthew tells us that many Pharisees and Sadducees came to receive the baptism of repentance and to them the Baptist addressed rather strong words: ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you of the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance.’ The Pharisees and the Sadducees whom we encounter often in the gospels were sects within the Judaism of the day. The Jewish historian Josephus Flavius identified the Sadducees with the upper social and economic echelon of Judean society. As a whole they fulfilled various political, social and religious roles, including maintaining the Temple. As a governing body, we might draw an analogy and compare them to the college of bishops. Bishops in very simple terms are the governing class of the Church. John the Baptist’s challenging call to repentance included the religious authorities of his day; the same is no less true in our day.
I mention this because in a an act similar to the Baptist’s call to repentance and renewal, last month, twenty-nine young men between the ages of 18 to 44, signed an open letter titled We Ask for Faith: Open Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church in French Canada. (Copies of this letter are available in the vestibule and I encourage everyone but especially all our men to take a copy for your own reflection.) Addressed and sent to 23 bishops of French-speaking dioceses across Canada as well as to the Quebec Bishops’ Conference, this letter is a crie de coeur, a passionate outcry from a group of young men who sign themselves as the disinherited of French Canada. The letter is a realistic assessment of the cultural landscape of once Catholic Quebec. I quote: