By: Rev. Fr. Orlando Mendoza
We are in the age of modern technologies when the phase of change is very fast, the world becomes small, the information is overloaded, jobs become easy, and knowledge is available at hand. As a result, young people called the Millennials, who have grown up in this kind of generation and situation and are not accustomed to a hard life, are somehow spoiled and want everything as soon as possible. They demand what they want even those things that their parents achieved through hard labor for a long period. They are the persons who lack patience and believe that they deserve everything in life. They feel they are worthy of everything.
In the gospel, John the Baptist preached about repentance and conversion in preparation for the coming of the Messiah, saying: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie” (Mk 1:7). With these words, he was presenting himself not worthy to be a servant of the Messiah. The servant during the time of Jesus was somebody who did the dirty job of untying the straps of the sandals of his master and who had no rights or dignity at all. John the Baptist said that he was unworthy to be the slave of the Messiah not only because of his humility but most of all because of the greatness of the Messiah. The Messiah was not simply a prophet, a religious leader, or a teacher but also the Son of God and therefore was God.
Like the Millennials, we feel worthy of many things and believe that we deserve them. This simply shows our ambitiousness and lack of humility. To have an ambition is a virtue but to be ambitious is a vice; while the latter is desiring success to surpass others, the former is desiring success to improve oneself. Ambitiousness as a vice is the opposite of humility. We lack humility and for this reason, we want to surpass others in whatever aspects of life particularly those that interest us such as money, power, and fame. On the other hand, God wants us to have ambition and to be successful in life. But God wants us to have them in humility; and even if we achieve success, God wants us to carry it in humility.
The Gospel presents us with John the Baptist as a model of ambition and humility. His ambition and mission were to prepare the way of the Lord, preach repentance and conversion, and baptize the people to new life. He did it by sacrificing a lot of time and effort in his formation in the desert. And when he did his ambition, he was successful. Both in preparation and the fulfillment of his ambition, he was humble. He considered himself to be nobody, not even worthy to be a slave. A manifestation of his humility is his lack of interest in honor and his zeal for service to others.
As we prepare ourselves for the coming of the Messiah this Christmas, let us ask the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary that through her prayers we may become like John the Baptist: that we may not feel deserving of everything without sacrifice but rather work and sacrifice to become deserving of what we want; that we may not be ambitious to surpass others but have the ambition to become the best of what we can be; and that we may not do all for honor but rather for service of others and the glory of God. Amen!
SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT
(Violet) Cycle B/Year II (December 10, 2023)
Is 40:1-5, 9-11/2 Pt 3:8-14/Mk 1:1-8