Reflections - December 11, 2016

“Go and tell John what you hear and see:  the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.”  Mt. 11:4-5.
 
A few days ago as I was re-reading the biography of St. Teresa of Calcutta I found an anecdote that I would like to share with you.
It said that a man heard a conference giving by St. Teresa in the United Nations and at the end of conference he said to her:  Sister, I do not believe in God.  I am an atheist, “but I assure you that if God exists he must be very similar to you”.
 
On this third Sunday of Advent the Gospel presents us with John the Baptist in prison.  He is lonely and his expectations grow before Jesus.  John had preached about the judgment of God and the promise of salvation of the same God.  Both the warning and the promise are conditional.  It depends on the free response of the people of Israel.  If the people of Israel do not change the consequences will be terrible, but if they change there will be an abundance of Blessings.  In other words, His message is a call to conversion sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors, soldiers and even the scribes and Pharisees.  That is why He preaches a Baptism of individual and personal repentance:  “people of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins”. Mk. 1:5.  John appealed to what we would call today “a social morality”:  “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none…..”.
What would those who have more than one cloak respond….? 
To the tax collectors he said:  “Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.”  And to the soldiers he said:  “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.”  Lk. 3:11-14.
 
The Gospel also tells us about the expectations of John:  “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”  Jesus’ answer was:  “Go and tell John what you hear and see:  The blind see….the deaf hear……the dead are raised…..and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them”.
 
Jesus message is overwhelming.  “Discover the Face of my Father, God, through My compassion.
 
On this Third Sunday of Advent the Church invites us to show as Baptized people and the children of the Triune God the face of His mercy so that those who do not believe may recognize Him in our acts of mercy as in the example of St. Teresa of Calcutta.  Remember that in this time of Advent, this time of lights and shopping, perhaps the only gospel that people can read will be our life and its good works.
 
Let us pray to the Lord in the Eucharist for the grace of a change of life to shine this Advent with our daily attitudes of love and service to the most needy.