December 10, 2017

Advent Reflection Week Three: "The Lord is Near"

The Baptism of Christ

As Christmas draws ever closer, holy Mother Church emphasizes the joy which should reside in our hearts over the birth of our Lord and Savior. The greatest joy of Christians is to see the day drawing near when the Lord will come again in His glory to lead the faithful into His kingdom. The oft-repeated Veni (Come) of the Advent season is an echo not only of the prophets but also of the conclusion of John's Revelations: "Come, Lord Jesus," the last words of the New Testament.

The beautiful passage from this Sunday’s Gospel recalls the forerunner of Christ: “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.” John the Baptist’s role as the harbinger of salvation was no accident. His was indeed, the "voice crying out in the wilderness", foretold by the prophets, who urged repentance and proclaimed to the world the imminence of the Messiah. On the day of Christ's baptism, John recognized Jesus as the Savior.

John the Baptist was ordained by God for a special purpose. Likewise, as Father Charles Irvin observes, “Your life is not a mere accident. Every life is given by God to accomplish His purposes, to bring His loving presence into a suffering world, to make His kingdom real by realizing it in how we live and how we treat people. No one is an outcast. No one is beyond the reach of God’s love.” Christ’s words and actions testify to this reality. Yet, in our fallen world, we long for the perfect heavenly Kingdom of God where death has no power and sin is no more.

In his homily for Gaudete Sunday Fr. Irvin explains how, "Advent is the time of the coming of God into our humanity, into your personal lives and mine. It is that mysterious time of the year when we recognize the tension between what already is and what is yet to be; between what we are and what we can be; between what has been accomplished and what remains unfinished in our enterprise of living." St. Paul tells us, "We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains ... as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies" (Romans 8:22-3).

Let us prepare ourselves for the birth of Christ and his glorious second coming by taking to heart the prophecy of Isaiah about the message of John the Baptist, "A voice proclaims in the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be lifted up, [and] every mountain and hill made low; The rugged land shall be a plain, the rough country, a broad valley," (Is. 40:3, 4) so that we shall see God face to face in Beatitude.

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