Who are you in today’s Gospel?
Three types of person appear on the scene in the Gospel reading for today (Matthew 3:1-12): The one who fearlessly proclaims Christ as Lord; the crowds who go out to see to see this man; the Pharisees and Sadducees who also go out to see him.
John is a strong and charismatic character, who draws a lot of attention to himself, although he’s fully aware that his mission is to do just the opposite.
He does not desire the attention he gets for himself (as Pharisees and Sadducees do). He identifies with his mission, which is to point us toward someone else far greater than himself.
Jesus Christ is the important person in today’s Gospel, as always. Not John the Baptist or anyone else.
However, as always, we too are represented in this Gospel. John the Baptist does what all prophets and all of the law are intended to do in every passage of Scripture. He reminds us that there are ultimately two types of people and that each of us falls into one of those two categories: there are those who humbly accept Jesus as the Lord of their lives, and those who don’t.
But that is not the full essence of what John wants to convey. He has a simple proclamation and an exhortation for everyone to heed:
The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand! Repent for your sins and prepare the way of the Lord!
The readings for the second Sunday of Advent tell us what the actual seasons of the year tell us all the time: just as the days become shorter this time of year, we must decrease, and think less of ourselves; as the days grow longer after Christmas, Jesus Christ must increase in our lives.
The Church gives us the season of Advent to reflect on this. To see ourselves and to see Jesus Christ as we should. We consider ourselves in terms of what we need to amend, in order to prepare the way for the Lord. We look to Jesus as our hope.
Advent song for today.
While reflecting on today’s liturgy, I could not help thinking of this song. Although it is not a much of a liturgical song, it’s a good one for today’s reflection.
Advent is a time for us to reflect deeply and foster the virtues of vigilance and hope, but it is not a time of mournful introspection. We should also foster a magnanimous spirit of joy, which will blossom into full joy during Christmas, if we are preparing our souls the way we are supposed to.
Next Sunday — Gaudete Sunday — we are going to focus more on that spirit of joy. If we do what the Gospel asks us to do today, we’ll experience the joy we are meant to have as Christians profoundly and richly. I hope and pray you do have this beautiful experience!
Have a Merry and Blessed Advent!