December 14, 2008
Sunday of the Third Week of Advent
John 1:6-8, 19-28
A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. And this is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him to ask him, “Who are you?” He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, “I am not the Christ.” So they asked him, “What are you then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?” He said: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” Some Pharisees were also sent. They asked him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
Introductory Prayer: Father in heaven, my heart desires the warmth of your love. My mind is searching for the light of your word. I long for the coming of Christ our Savior. Through this short, intimate encounter with you, I seek to grow in my love for you. You are my strength, my light, my peace, my joy, my life.
Petition: Jesus, help me to generously fulfill the mission you have given me.
1. A Man Named John Was Sent from God
Consider for a moment the magnitude of this verse. On the one hand, we have an ordinary member of the human race –– like you and me –– who bears one of the most common names known to mankind. On the other hand, he has a mission that transcends his very person –– also like you and me. Scripture repeatedly attests that God “sends”; he reveals himself to a person and then sends that person forth to communicate to others the truth about himself. What is more, the one who truly comes to know God feels compelled to communicate him to others. Even Jesus refers to himself as the one “sent” by the Father. This is because the Blessed Trinity is a relationship of love that God will not keep to himself. He first creates the world for us men and women for our enjoyment and sustenance. Then, after we sinned, he sends us patriarchs, prophets, kings and ultimately his very own son as a way of assuring us that he loves us and wants us to be with him forever.
2. I Am Not the Christ
John knows who he is not. Honest self-knowledge is an essential step on the path to holiness. John is attracting the attention of the multitudes in Israel. Many people would perhaps be flattered or even intoxicated with such celebrity status. Yet John is not grasping for power, nor does he seek to be someone he is not; rather he is preparing men’s hearts for the true Christ. The Evil One will continually try to get us to look to ourselves and our own talents in an attempt to distract our eyes from God and his plan for us. John gives us a shining example of the triumph of humble self-knowledge over the wiles of the devil. When we, too, are totally focused on God, we feel compelled to eliminate from our personal lives any duplicity, vanity or inflated self-esteem. We begin to live in the truth, rightly valuing all the gifts God has bestowed on us to use in service of his Kingdom, without taking anything for ourselves since everything is his.
3. I Am the Voice of One Crying Out in the Desert
“Make Straight the Way of the Lord.” John knows who he is. There is no division in John’s heart between what God is asking and what he personally wants. He knows that God has brought him into this world to make a difference. This reveals the inner source of his zeal, which gives resounding force to his message. He has been entrusted with a mission, and his heart is fully in it. But John is not unique. God has called each one of us into existence to accomplish a mission. Is my heart ardently attached to God’s plan for my life? Do I know and fully embrace God’s plan for my life?
Conversation with Christ: Blessed Lord, you are the source of lasting happiness and genuine peace of soul. Help me to base my interior strength on the certitude of your love for me. Help me to recognize your greatness and my nothingness, so that I will be more ready to be emptied of my selfishness and be a faithful instrument of your love. Give me the grace to take on my mission with fervent zeal and to bring it to completion.
Resolution: Today I will make three acts of humility for love of Jesus.
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