Gospel Reflection Dec 13 – Sr. Teresa
Sunday, December 13
Third Sunday of Advent
John 1:6-8, 19-28
A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.
And this is the testimony of John.
When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests
and Levites to him
to ask him, “Who are you?”
He admitted and did not deny it,
but admitted, “I am not the Christ.”
So they asked him,
“What are you then? Are you Elijah?”
And he said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
So they said to him,
“Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you have to say for yourself?”
“I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
‘make straight the way of the Lord,’”
as Isaiah the prophet said.”
Some Pharisees were also sent.
They asked him,
“Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?”
John answered them,
“I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,
where John was baptizing.
In the readings from last week, we heard Isaiah tell us about a voice in the desert who would cry out, “Prepare the way of the LORD! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!” The Gospel told us that it was John the Baptist. This week we learn more about this messenger named John.
This is the John with whom we are most familiar. He is the lone figure in the desert, wearing strange clothes and having a strange diet of locust and honey. He is strong, forceful, and without hesitation calls everyone to turn from sin. He does not seem to have a moment of self-doubt or questioning. He hurls his message to anyone who will listen — even the Jewish and Roman leaders. He does not back down. He is confident and determined in what he believes he is called to do – prepare the way. He is not afraid to speak the truth to power. At the same time, he does not hesitate to tell his listeners that it is not about him. He is a messenger. It is not about us. We are messengers. What message do we give?
Think about yourself. Can you identify any characteristics of John that you may also find in yourself? The truth is that you and I, like John, have been sent as messengers. You and I are sent to prepare the way for God, to clear a pathway so that when Emmanuel comes, there will be room for him in our hearts and the hearts of others.
What kind of messenger are you? What is the message you bring? Here are some snippets from the prophet Isaiah that offer each of us a blueprint for being God’s messenger. I invite you to read them slowly. Linger with them and let them be the guide for the message you are called to bring to others.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon you … the LORD has anointed you …. You have been sent to bring the good news to the poor … to the brokenhearted … you have been sent to proclaim freedom for the imprisoned … rejoice heartily in God, the joy of your soul … you have been given a robe of salvation … a mantle of justice. (snippets from Isaiah)
In Paul’s Letter today addressed to the anxious Thessalonians and now, to us, “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks.” That advice will sustain us.
Am I a messenger? That is not a question. Each and every one of us has been sent by God to bring the Good News to others. That has been true from the moment of our existence and then verified through our Baptism. Also, at the end of every Mass, we are sent out. We don’t have to wonder about it – we are messengers. We do, however, have to accept the role of messenger and make straight a way for God, not just in our own heart, but in the hearts of those we meet every day. Like John the Baptist, we are called to give witness of the light of Christ.
In Act v of The Merchant of Venice, Portia says, “How far that little candle throws its beams. So shines a kind deed in a darkened world.” Every act of witnessing to the Gospel brings light to a darkened world. You don’t need to dress in camel’s hair or eat locusts and wild honey. You have to be you doing simple, ordinary things. A smile, a phone call, a helping hand all are simple acts you can do. All of them have the power to cast a light.
We keep praying for God to do something. I think our faith history tells us that God is not going to intervene independently of human beings. It is through us that the world will know God is alive, God does act, and God is among us. God will do many things in and through the most ordinary of disguises. That disguise is you. You the one sent. You are the messenger.
When you act justly, when you act in the name of compassion, when you offer mercy and forgiveness then God is born again. Teresa of Avila reminded us of this awesome responsibility when she wrote, “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours.” Go be a messenger today.
-Sr Teresa Tuite, OP