Tuesday is the feast of the Immaculate Conception; Masses will be at 8:00 am and 7:00 pm. On December 15th, we will have our Advent Reconciliation service at 7:00 pm in the church. Please mark your calendar and take advantage of these opportunities. Safety procedures will be in place.
Our Gospel today introduces us to John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin who is a primary Advent figure, someone who “prepared the way of the Lord,” as we are supposed to do with our lives. It is interesting to look at the differences between John the Baptist (a stereotypical Old Testament prophet) and Jesus (who introduces us to a new way of thinking about and interrelating with God).
The first difference is that John was out of the way, off in the desert, and people had to go out to him. Jesus, on the other hand, went into the towns and villages and approached people directly, going out of His way to reach out to sinners, even dining with them. Jesus took the initiative to be with the outcasts of society.
John’s message was a fiery one, threatening dire consequences to those who didn’t take it to heart. Jesus’ message was more a joyful announcement of the Good News.
No miracles are reported about John the Baptist, but Jesus’ ministry was full of miracles, especially healings.
Finally, both preached repentance, reform, a change of heart. Jesus, though, was more than a reformer: He transformed our condition and the condition of the world. After Jesus, everything was different!
What does this say to me? Well, it makes me think that the fire and brimstone sermons I have heard are more appropriate for the Old Testament. Jesus came to present to us a loving God, the Prodigal Father, who is always waiting for His child.
That leads me to realize that, if I have internalized Jesus’ message and way of being, I will not be living out of fear, but rather a joyful desire to bring Gospel values into the world, to help transform the world, as did Jesus.
Advent is a time of reflection on how well I am doing at preparing the way of the Lord for others. Am I fearful or do I trust that God loves me and wants the best? Am I doing what I think is right just so I won’t go to hell or am I so joyful with what I have been given that I want to share it with others? How can I transform myself more into a joyful messenger of the Good News? As we struggle to do this, let us support each other with prayer and example. God bless and stay safe.