The utterances of the Prophets had been fulfilled. The heritage of the chosen people had passed into Roman hands and the sceptre had been taken away from the house of Judah. (Matins, Resp. 2, 4th Sun.) The Messias was due. The whole world was looking for Him, and especially the Jews.
Later John the Baptist is thrown into prison, in the fortress of Machaerus, east of the Dead Sea in Perea (see map), where he hears of the many miracles performed by our Lord during the second year of His public ministry including, probably, the raising from the dead of the widow's son at Naim. (See map.) Thereupon, John sends two of his disciples from prison to our Lord, to give Him an opportunity of openly declaring His mission to all. "Art thou He that art to come or look we for another?" (2) For answer Christ quotes the prophecy of Isaias where, referring to the Messias, he says, " God himself will come and save you. Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall be free." (*) These very miracles are being worked by the Son of Mary; He, therefore, is the Messias. And as for John, continues our Lord, Isaias has written of him too: "Behold I send my angel before my face, who shall prepare thy way before thee." He is the forerunner of Christ: he comes to give testimony of the light."
St. John bore this testimony to the Jews, and he bears it to us year by year in the Advent Gospels, and daily in the "Last Gospel ", and at the Agnus Dei. Formerly the Sundays of Advent were in the reverse order from the present, the Sunday before Christmas being called the First, the previous Sunday the Second, and so on. It should be noticed that under this arrangement the Gospels which refer to St. John the Baptist were in their historic order.
1. Gospel for the Third Sunday of Advent.
2. Gospel for the Second Sunday of Advent.
3. Isaias xxxv, 4-5.
In the Gospel for the First Sunday of Advent we find a prophecy which our Lord uttered on the Tuesday before His death. After leaving the Temple He went with His disciples to the Mount of Olives and seeing Jerusalem spread out before Him, He foretold the impending destruction of the city on account of its rejection of Himself. And then He went on to speak of His Second Coming at the end of the world, when the elements shall be overthrown, and the Son of God shall come with great power and majesty. "When these things come to pass, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand." Heaven and earth shall pass away, but the words of the Master shall not pass away; they then will be fulfilled.