[3rd Sunday of Advent, Year B, December 14, 2104. / Isa 61:1-2a, 10-11 /Luke 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54 / Thess 5:16-24 John 1:6-8, 19-28]
Christmas is fast approaching and it is a time to prepare well for the coming of the Lord. How are our preparations coming on? In today’s Gospel again we find John the Baptist. He “is a man named John” – very ordinary – but what makes him special is that “he was sent by God.” When we live for God the ordinary of our everyday life becomes extraordinary. John was sent to testify to the light. He was not the light but was sent to testify to the light. In testifying he prepares a way for the coming of the Lord. John was never afraid to announce Christ because he knew that “one more powerful than him was coming.” When we speak about Jesus we too can be full of peace that after our words will come one who is more powerful! So when we share our faith and love in Christ we don’t need to lose the peace and become anxious if we don’t see any immediate effects. As Avril Lavigne would sing, “Chill out, what you ya’ yellin’ for?” Trust, breathe easy, the Holy Spirit is coming!!! He will work the magic so just be faithful to what you understand.
Many came to interrogate John about his identity. The priests and Levites gave him a hard time. “Who are you?” He should respond “I am John the Baptist.” But instead he announces “I am not the Messiah.” Why does he respond like that? If you were asked who you are for sure you would say “I am Peter” or “I am Mary.” Only rarely we affirm in the negative but John does it three times before announcing who he is: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’ What can we gather from all of this? Firstly that John is very clear of his identity. We need to know who we are and what we are. We also need to know what we are not. In this world of today the emphasis is on having multiple talents and capacities, to be able to do everything, to bring up a family, work in the office, always have the kids looking perfect, to be able to do everything. But it is also very healthy to know our limits. We need to be able to say no. Are you able to say no? Are you aware of your limits? We need to be able to put limits and boundaries.
To put limits and boundaries is not to be boring or curb our style. On the contrary the exhortation from St Paul today is “Do not stifle the Spirit.” The Spirit will be the one to guide us, direct us, urge us to go for it but also to stop. Chill out. Staying close to Jesus means we are in tune with the Holy Spirit. A person guided by the Spirit is a force to be reckoned with. To keep being powered by the Spirit he advises, “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Test everything, retain what is good.” Thanks St Paul for that great advice! The Holy Spirit will teach us our true identity. He is the only one who knows it, so don’t ask anyone else. If you ask the society you will be confused.
Let us ask John the Baptist for his same humility. Why humility when we are talking about identity? Because humility is to walk in the truth. It is to be yourself, the person that God wants, not the person that others want. It is like the girl I met who said that everyone in her family wants her to be a nurse but deep down she does not feel called to this. Let us help each other to prepare the Way of the Lord. As St Augustine tells us, “To prepare the way of the Lord is to be humble. People call John the Christ but he says he is not what they think. He does not use the mistake of others to feed his own pride. He knew where his salvation lay. He understood that he was a lamp, and was afraid of being quenched by the wind of pride.” We need a Saviour! Maranatha Lord Jesus!