How Fortunate We Are

Thursday of Week 2 in Advent

Is. 41:13-20 & Mt. 11:11-15

John the Baptist has been called the greatest of the prophets. All the Old Testament prophets, like Elijah and Isaiah, had a vision of the future in which God would make His presence known to humanity. But their vision was incomplete. Isaiah, in today’s first reading, speaks of a time when the poor and needy will be taken care of, when rivers will water the parched land and vegetation will flourish. All this will be accomplished when "the Holy One of Israel" makes His appearance, but Isaiah has no idea when that will be. All he can do is encourage the people of Israel to trust God.

John, on the other hand, was able to identify the Redeemer. He could see Him with his own eyes - “BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD” - as he pointed Him out to other people. The prophets who had gone before could present only a dim picture of what was to come, whereas John's prophecy was clearly focussed on the person of Jesus. This was what made John the greatest prophet.

In the Gospel Jesus acknowledges John's pre-eminence, but then says, “The least in the kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is." Jesus made this remark because He knew that John would not live to see the whole story unfold: he would never follow Jesus as the disciples did, learning from His teaching, witnessing His miracles, nor be present at the Crucifixion to see how much God loved the world and of course, knew nothing about the resurrection.

When Jesus spoke of the "least in the kingdom" He included us, not because we are better people than John the Baptist – we are most certainly not - but because we are more fortunate. We are privileged to know Jesus through Scripture and to have Him with us every day in the Sacraments.

Lord Jesus, may we try to love You as fervently as did John the Baptist and may your presence in our lives increase.