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Gospel for Sunday, December 5: Luke 3: 1-6


1In the fifteenth year of the empire of Tiberius Caesar, while Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, and Philip, his brother, tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2under the high priests Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, son of Zechariah, in the desert. 3He traveled throughout the Jordan region, preaching a baptism of conversion for the forgiveness of sins, 4as it is written in the book of oracles of the prophet Isaiah: Voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord,straighten his paths! 5Every ravine will be filled, every mountain and every hill will be made low; the tortuous roads will become straight and the impervious ones, smooth.
6Every man will see God’s salvation!

Luke 3: 1-6

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

Luke, in accordance with the other synoptics and John, opens the Gospel proper with the preaching of the Baptist (3.1-20), but unlike the other evangelists he provides a broad picture of the political-religious situation in which the precursor begins his manifestation , from the emperor of Rome to the pontificate of Annas and Caiaphas. The “fifteenth year of the empire of Tiberius Caesar” oscillates between 26 and 28 of the Christian era, depending on whether the correction with Augustus is included (which occurred from 11-12) or the calculation begins from the death of the emperor (19 August 14).

Luke abounds in his enumeration, recalling two pagan dominions alongside Galilee and Judea, precisely to remember that not only Israel but also the Gentiles were called to pass under the kingship of Christ.

Pontius Pilate was “praefectus” of Judea from 14 to 37 AD. C., Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, administered Judea from 4 BC. C. to 34 d. C.: originally “tetrarch” meant governor of the fourth part, but in common language it was a title that designated a subordinate prince, inferior to the king. Philip was another son of Herod the Great, and ruled the territories north of Lake Tiberias from 4 BC. C. to 34 d. C.. Lisania administered the area south of Anti-Lebanon.

The high priest Anna, although from 15 AD. C. had finished his assignment and continued to exercise his weight in the decisions of the Sanhedrin (Jn 18, 13-24; Acts 4,6). Furthermore, Caiaphas was his son-in-law, and was high priest from 18 to 36 AD. C. (Mt 26,3.57; Jn 18, 24-28).

In the “story” of his childhood (1.5-80), Luke had left John “in the desert”; from here he now resumes talking about his mission except that, unlike Matthew and Mark, the precursor is not stuck in one place but moves “throughout the whole region of the Jordan” (3,3), quite populated at the time due to the building activity of Herod the great and Archelaus: he is not so much a hermit who retreats into the desert, but rather an itinerant prophet.

John’s mission is that of all prophets: to bring the people back to their God. Conversion is the usual theme of prophetic preaching. In fact, we are never fully oriented towards the good, towards God and others, there is always something or a lot to modify, rectify, perfect. John’s cry “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths” never resonates in vain for those who listen to the Word of God, which is always a sharp, double-edged sword that has much to cut, eradicate in the heart of men, especially of the believer (Is 49.2; Heb 4.12).

John accompanies his preaching with the invitation to undergo a symbolic rite which in itself did not achieve but indicated the change in life that the penitent intended to implement.

The “baptism” consisted of immersion and re-emergence in and from the waters of the Jordan. With this gesture the man signaled to those present that within himself a spiritual ablution was taking place, a denial of his old habits with the intention of introducing a new way of life, made up of humility, goodness, meekness, loyalty. .

The words pronounced or put in John’s mouth come from Is 40.2-5 and are those with which the great post-exilic prophet announces to his fellow countrymen the end of Babylonian slavery and their return to their homeland. It is therefore an announcement of consolation and not an oracle of misfortune. John will also take on the figure of a grim and catastrophic preacher (Lk 3.7-18), but in these first sections of his mission he is a herald of good news, in other words of the “Gospel”. What matters is knowing how to welcome him, making room for him in his heart. The “road” to be prepared is no longer the one that crosses the desert, from Babylon to Jerusalem, but rather the shorter one, however more insidious, which goes from the mind to the heart, to the will of man, and where all kinds of angularities hide which hinder and prevent its practicability.

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at


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