Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Should We Look for Another

Readings for Wednesday the Third Week of Advent 2015
John the Baptist came on to the scene like a whirlwind of asceticism.  His camel hair cloak and belt of leather, eating an extreme diet of only that which God provided him in nature; he presented to the people a challenge.  He pointed them to repentance. Declaring the kingdom of heaven to be at hand, and pointing out to them the Lamb of God.   John's extreme energy, his powerful speaking, his evident faith, all called out to them so strongly that they at one point though John himself to be the Messiah.  John was quick though to point to Jesus instead, declaring himself unworthy to even untie the shoes of Christ. 

John was the first person recorded jumping for joy before the presence of Christ.  Just like David before the Ark of the Covenant, John still encased in his mothers womb danced with delight at the coming Messiah who the Holy Spirit had revealed to him even before words could be expressed.  There is no doubt to anyone reading the scriptures that John was a man of faith, a man of strong conviction.  It is the kind of faith you and I want isn't it?  As Catholics we are called to live a life of detachment, a life that depends solely on the Lord for providence.  We are called to point out to others Christ, and in our own humility recognize that we are not worthy.  We are called by our Baptism to be Priest, Prophet and King.  Members of the royal family. 

John, though, was like the rest of us.   He had fears.  He had doubts.  Today's Gospel reading shows us one of those moments.   Here John has been thrown in prison by Herod.   He spoke up about Herod's unlawful and sinful marriage.  He told Herod that it wasn't right and that God was not happy with him.  Herod threw John in prison for it, probably to rot.  People are never happy when prophets speak out against them for their actions.  For thousands of years now the prophets have been wagging their fingers in the face of kings, rulers, emperors, and sages.  Herod responds just as they always did, instead of hearing God's voice, he punishes the prophet and eventually kills him.

Here John is knowing that he will likely die.  He knows Herod is furious and that the Herod's wife, Herodias, doesn't like him either.  This isn't going to turn out well.  Here is John who has been doing the will of God.  He has been preaching wherever God sent him.  He has been prophesying and speaking the truth.  He has been living a life of austerity, a life of penance and repentance.   He has been pointing to Christ as the Messiah.. but here he is .. in prison.  The Messiah is supposed to change that.   They are waiting for a ruler, a military King, a judge, a prophet... all of this is what John is waiting for, someone to lead their people out of bondage.   John is in the ultimate of bondage.  In prison unjustly.  He begins to doubt.  He has known Jesus his whole life.   He still begins to question.

"Are you the messiah?   The one?  Or should we look for another." 

How fickle we are.   We do the same.    When it seems like everything is going wrong, we start to ask God.  Why me?  Haven't I been faithful?  Aren't I trying to live right?  Why me?  Maybe this isn't the right path.   Maybe... maybe...   Satan wants us to doubt.  It's at these moments that the testimony of others is so valuable.  Remember that.   Not just you who are going through tough times... but you who have a testimony to offer them.   Jesus does not rush to get John out of his suffering.  He doesn't send an army of angels to free John.  No, he sends a simple message:

"Go and tell John what you have seen and heard:
the blind regain their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear, the dead are raised,
the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

We need to be bolstering one another.   We need to be sharing our witness, our faith.  That's part of being a prophet.  Speaking about Christ and what he has done for us.  Reaching out to one another.  Sharing our faith.  Not just at Church but every day.  Calling a friend who is having a rough time.  Sending them a facebook message.   Offering to bring over dinner when you know they haven't had time to cook.   Even just a little note on a card telling them you are thinking of them is of so much value.

It's Advent.  Right now we are to prepare the world for Jesus coming.  We are prophets.  We are to speak about Christ in every word and action.  Every heart needs to hear that Jesus is the one.  We all might doubt from time to time.  We all have rough times.  Then God brings along a gift...  something that changes everything.  Be that gift.    I know that in my life, especially this Christmas, people have gone out of their way to make sure we have a Christmas for our kids.  I cannot thank them enough.  I don't even know who to thank.  I do know this, I will be praying for them.  That God will bless their lives even more so than he has ours. 

It's ok to doubt.  It's ok to fear.  Let us continually point though to the one who made the blind to see, the lame to walk, the lepers to be cleansed.. and ask ourselves this:  Am I spiritually blind?  Jesus can make me see.  Am I spiritually deaf?  Jesus can help me hear.  Am I spiritually dead?  Jesus can bring me back to life.  Are you ready for him to proclaim the good news to you?  Are you ready to in turn go forth and proclaim it to another?  That's what Advent is all about... prepare ye the way of the Lord! 

His Servant and yours,
Brian