John the Baptist is a key Advent in the Liturgy of the Church. Reflection on his life and mission inspires us to consider the meaning of Christ’s incarnation, both for ourselves Au for our world. John had passion and zeal for what he believed, he prepared himself through the study of Scripture, and was sensitive to the unfolding story of redemption. He is the role model for us as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ.
When we hear of John in today’s Gospel reading he is in prison, accused of ” over-zealous preaching ” and of threatening the status quo. He is described as an austere man with no qualms about speaking his mind. His message about conversion and repentance sounded hash and many leaders were unable to accept it. When Jesus is questioned about John’s authenticity, he tells the disciples to return and report to John all they have seen. Jesus then affirms John; his regard for John is evident.
The relationship between the two cousins, Jesus and John, was remarkable. It was one of love, regard, admiration, and respect. John was secure in his own mission, and through prayer, study, and preparation he was able to remain open to the signs of the times.
John’s role was to prepare the way. His greatness lies in his passion for God and his ability to cooperate in bringing about the kingdom. We are to cooperate in the same way. It is important for us to recognize within our own hearts that God’s goodness exists, and we must accept the challenge of ongoing conversation.
We are also invited to have the same passion as John for bringing about the kingdom. We are asked to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. We are asked to care for the sick and the needy, and accept wholeheartedly the social mission of the Church. By doing this we bear witness to the coming of the kingdom.
Today is a day of rejoicing, Gaudete Sunday, because we know that the kingdom is at hand in the promise of Christmas. Today is also a day to remember the task at hand. There are people and places. Where the joy of the kingdom have never been experienced and these places exist right here, right now, within our families, our communities, our nation, and our world. The creation of the new world means that we must all work toward it. As we continue our preparation for Christmas, let us renew our efforts to believe in God’s presence and our own response.
May God bless you all
Your brother in Christ