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JOHN THE BAPTIST PREPARES US FOR CHRISTMAS

Father Francis's picture
Third Week of Advent

Is: 61:1-2,10-11; I Thess: 5:16-24; Jn: 1:6-8,19-28

In the Old Testament, God our loving Father, carefully and gradually revealed news about the coming of our Redeemer. When the time was imminent, He sent John the Baptist who, when he appeared in the wilderness and told people to ‘make a straight way for the Lord,’ awakened echoes of the promised Redeemer throughout the land. It brought all kinds of people - Pharisees and Sadducees, outcast publicans and semi-heathen soldiers among them – who forgot their differences to come and listen to him.

The identity of the Baptist troubled the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and they sent priests and Levites to question him. Without any ambiguity, he confessed that he was not the Messiah, but only a 'Voice crying in the wilderness'. John the Baptist was the last prophet to announce the coming of the Redeemer.

He was a strong character, not a reed shaken by the wind. He was not ambitious nor self-seeking but self-effacing. He was afraid of no one. His message was simple and expressed with great earnestness. He announced that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand and people had to prepare themselves for it through repentance.

What is the ‘Kingdom of Heaven?’ It is that society where God’s will is done as perfectly on Earth as it is in Heaven. Obviously the Kingdom of Heaven is manifested to us in the life of Christ, and will triumph at His Second Coming to reach perfection in the world to come.

The appearance of John the Baptist in the wilderness broke the four-century silence of the prophets in Israel. He was greater than any other. He not only came with a message about the Messiah but also had the unique privilege of pointing out Christ to the people. 'Behold the Lamb of God' he said on the banks of the Jordan.

John the Baptist, though the greatest man born of a man and woman, was also the most humble. At the suggestion of the emissaries from Jerusalem that he might be the Messiah, he recoiled in utter self-abasement saying that he was not fit even to do the menial job of a servant and untie the straps of Our Lord’s sandals.

Once Christ appeared on the scene, John withdrew. He understood that Christ must increase and he decrease FOR he knew that, in Jesus, God had ultimately revealed Himself.

As Christmas draws near the Church presents us with John the Baptist to help prepare us for the spiritual coming of Christ once again. For his words, “I am a voice in the wilderness; make a straight way for the Lord,” are meant for us. When a king planned a visit to a certain town of his kingdom he sent an “advance man” ahead, to instruct the people in the proper protocol for receiving him. John has instructed us in the proper protocol for receiving Jesus our King. “Repent.” This means that we must try once again to turn away from our sins by making a sincere and honest Confession.

Lord Jesus, may none of us fail to heed John’s words as we prepare during this Advent for the coming of You as our King.

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