Dec. 7, 2016
By Father William Muench
Let us talk about John the Baptist today since St. John the Baptist is the perfect patron saint for Advent.
It is that time of Advent, again, that time to open our hearts and spirit to prepare to celebrate the Birth of Our Savior, Jesus Christ.
The Gospels tell us that John the Baptist came to this earth to announce to us all the coming of the Messiah, Our Savior – Jesus. John’s message at that time is exactly the perfect Advent message for now: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”
I am certain you know the John the Baptist story. I find it a great story – he is certainly one of my favorite saints. Let me remind you.
After years of prayer and preparation, John began preaching at a spot on the River Jordan.
He preached to all who would listen; even the Pharisees and Scribes came to listen to him. His was a very challenging message but he proved to be a very appealing speaker.
The Gospels tell us that many came to experience him. Many would change their lives because of him.
I imagine you have seen some of the paintings of John the Baptist. Many great artists have tried to capture his image. Matthew’s Gospel describes him in this way: his clothing was made of camel’s hair and he wore a leather belt. His food consisted of locusts and wild honey.
Definitely, he was a rather curious character.
Personally, I think I would have liked John the Baptist. However, I am certain he would have frightened me and I would be rather nervous in his presence.
Can you imagine John the Baptist as your confessor? He surely would profoundly affect my life.
John had such a great method. Many came to him and they are challenged. They were compelled to acknowledge their sins and resolve to change.
John wanted them to do something so that they would remember this moment. So, he walked them into the river and baptized them, plunging them into the water.
I know that John’s baptism would have been quite an adventure for me.
John came to prepare others to find God.
Today, we again begin our Advent journey to Bethlehem and again this year John the Baptist is our guide. He leads us again to find repentance. We consider… how can I become a better person, a holier person? What has to be eliminated? What can I add to make my world a better place?
We are a baptized people. Our Baptism is the Baptism of Jesus. John the Baptist makes it very clear that Jesus was coming with his powerful invitation that would bring us into the Kingdom of God through the Sacrament of Baptism, the Baptism of Jesus.
As a baptized people, we are called to change our world, to transform ourselves into the Spirit of the Lord. John says this, “I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
It is Advent. What does preparation for Christmas mean – spiritual preparation? It is more than decorations, shopping and cards. They are a wonderful part of the season – I love them all. However, we must not allow ourselves to forget that there must be a spiritual preparation also.
A spiritual preparation means time. The shepherds came and looked upon the Christ child for a time. The magi came to Bethlehem and looked upon the Christ child and left transformed.
When we go through Advent, it must be a time to take another long look at Jesus, a time to spend with the Christ Child.
Will I be able to truly make myself like Jesus?