In the liturgy prior to the Second Vatican Council (1962 Missal, Extraordinary Form), the Gospel texts for the Four Sundays were fixed with the following readings:
- First Sunday of Advent: Second Coming of Christ (Luke 21:25-33)
- Second Sunday of Advent: Saint John the Baptist “Shall we look for another?” (Mt 11:2-10)
- Third Sunday of Advent: Saint John the Baptist “Whose sandal I’m unworthy to untie” (John 1:19-28)
- Fourth Sunday of Advent: Saint John the Bapist “‘Make ready the way of the Lord, make straight His paths” (Luke 3:1-6)
Observe that the first Sunday is eschatological and denotes the Second Advent of Christ at the end of time, and the three other Sundays relate specifically to the ministry of John the Baptist preparing the world for the First Advent of Christ and His baptism. One might even say that Saint John the Baptist is the “Patron Saint of Advent.”
By the way, whatever happened to devotion to Saint John the Baptist? It seems that the Church has suffered from a lack of devotion to the Baptist. The Eastern Churches are exemplary in their profound veneration of the great Forerunner of Christ.
Saint John the Baptist, Forerunner of the Christ, pray for us.
PS: Canterbury Tales Challenge: Somebody out there needs to name their son “John Baptist So-and-So”. How cool is that?