THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT
(Violet/Rose) Cycle A/Year I (December 11, 2016)
Is 35:1-6, 10/Jas 5:7-10/Mt 11:2-11
Nathaniel Hawthorne, a famous American writer died in 1864 with an unfinished play on his desk. The play tells about the main character that never appears in the stage even though he is the center of the play. All the other minor characters talk about him in the whole play but he never appears in the stage even until the end of the play. Mark Link who recounted the story of Hawthorne said that the Old Testament is just like the play of Hawthorne. The Patriarchs, the Judges, the Kings, the Priests and especially the Prophets talked about the Messiah during the whole Old Testament period but the Messiah never appeared; He never arrived.
There is one prophet who talked about the Messiah and then the Messiah appeared right there in front of Him. This prophet is no other than John the Baptist, the one promised in the Old Testament in these words: “Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you” (Mt 11:10b). In the gospel, Jesus Christ praised John the Baptist with these words: “Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist” (Mt 11:11a).
John the Precursor, prepared the way of the Messiah, his cousin Jesus Christ. First, he prepared himself for such great task of being the forerunner of the Lord by living most of his life in the dessert, in prayer and penance. Then, he prepared the people by preaching repentance to them and by baptizing them for the forgiveness of their sins and the renewal of their life. When the Messiah came to the scene, the stage was then prepared for His main role. People were prepared for His coming and He was able to found the Church through His apostles and disciples.
On Christmas Day, Jesus Christ will come again to us. This is the reason why again we hear the words of John the Baptist. He is the precursor of Jesus; he prepares the way for the coming of the Messiah. John’s message is no other than that of conversion. Indeed, Christ cannot enter into our lives if there is no conversion in us. To have conversion, we need first of all to repent of our sinfulness. We are all sinners and we need the mercy and pardon of God. Consequently, we need to ask God’s forgiveness especially through the sacrament of Confession. We should not be ashamed of confessing our sins to a priest because he is the instrument of Christ to bring forgiveness, healing and peace to our lives.
Conversion is not simply being sorry of our sins. It is also reforming our lives by doing away with our vices and sins and trying to live the Christian virtues of faith, hope, love, wisdom, justice, courage, moderation, integrity, and perseverance and also the Christian values of fidelity in marriage, renunciation of violence, respect, responsibility, honesty, kindness, compassion, thankfulness, patience, humility and commitment. Conversion is living the life of Christ manifested in all His teachings which He summarized into two precepts: love for God and love for neighbor.
As we continue preparing for the coming of the Messiah, let us heed the voice of John the Baptist and follow the Messiah by loving God and serving our neighbor especially the needy.