Reflection of the 3rd Sunday of Advent
One of the most important needs we have in life to receive respect and esteem from others, no matter how low our position may be on the ladder of social importance. This is a good and legitimate need. Humility doesn’t mean being a doormat upon which others wipe their feet. But our need for respect and esteem can, as we all know so well, become unbalanced.
Self-appreciation and self-affirmation can slip over into egocentrism, self-centeredness and an aggressive approach to others. Preoccupation with one’s own public image and their everlasting pursuit of recognition leads us into the most merciless of all slaveries, with our ego as our tyrannical owner.
John the Baptist gives us a clue to the secret of human greatness. The lives of the saints give us insights into the way to respect and esteem. To be genuinely loved by others, to receive the affection and appreciation that we all crave, we simply must forget ourselves and dedicate our lives to something or someone. We must give ourselves over to something that is superior. All of the really great people we’ve known, if we think about them, are people who have been astonishingly careless about their own importance.
All of this to say, that greatness finds you. You don’t find greatness. If you seek it you will never find it. Greatness, the esteem of the crowd, human accolades, the recognition of your nobility finds you. And it finds you only where it can, when you are located in the center of a life dedicated to a transcendent value or goal; when you are found engaged in the task of doing your Heavenly Father’s work here on earth.
John the Baptist was a great man. Jesus Christ said of him:”Of all of the men born of women, none was greater than John the Baptist.” That was quite a statement, considering its source ! And what did John the Baptist say about Jesus?” I must decrease, He must increase.” In other words, John the Baptist’s awareness was centered on the presence of God in our midst.
Advent is the time of the coming of God into our humanity, into our personal lives. It is that mysterious time of the year when we recognize the tension between what already is and what is yet to be; between what we are and what we can be; between what has been accomplished and what remains unfinished in our enterprise of living; between when we are now and where we can yet be.
If we can live our lives dedicated to making the lives of others a little bit better than they once were, if we can find ourselves giving love to the loveless, and being loved in return, and if we can live each day fully in the presence of Christ, or rather with his presence reaching and touching others through us, that is no small thing. It is a great accomplishment. Our lives will be judged accordingly, and we will have the honor of Christ as our own.
May God bless you,
Your brother in Christ,