Monthly Archives: June 2013

Daily Meditations of the Holy Father

 

 

 

 

MORNING MEDITATION IN THE CHAPEL OF THE
DOMUS SANCTAE MARTHAE

The Christian’s haste

Saturday, 15 June 2013

 

(by L’Osservatore Romano, Weekly ed. in English, n. 25, 19 June 2013)

 

Christian life must always be restive and never act as a tranquillizer or even less as “a terminal treatment to keep us quiet until we go to heaven”; so like St Paul we must witness “to the message of true reconciliation” without being overly concerned with statistics or proselytism. This is a lunatic way of acting but is beautiful, for it is the scandal of the Cross. Pope Francis was speaking of reconciliation and apostolic zeal in his homily at Mass on Saturday morning, 15 June in the Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

He based his reflection on the day’s readings and in particular on St Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians. Christ’s love possesses us, impels us, drives us on. This speed is Paul in fourth gear: when he sees Christ’s love he cannot stand still”.

Pope Francis also pointed out that in this passage “the word ‘reconciliation’, is repeated five times, like a refrain”, to say clearly: “God reconciled us to him in Christ”. St Paul “also speaks with both force and tenderness when he says: I am an ambassador for Christ”. Paul seems to fall to his knees to implore: “We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God”, as if he had said “lower your guard” to let yourselves be reconciled to God.

Paul’s hurrying “reminds me of Mary the Pope said, setting out with haste to help her cousin. “This is the haste of the Christian message…. Here the message is, precisely, reconciliation”. “True reconciliation”, the Pope continued, “is that in Christ God took our sins upon his own shoulders and for our sake made himself sin”.

This is “the mystery that motivated Paul with apostolic zeal, for it is such a marvellous thing: the love of God who, for me, handed his Son over to be killed. When Paul is confronted by this truth he says: but he loved me, he died for my sake. This is the mystery of reconciliation!”.

“Christian peace is a restive not a torpid peace”. “Christian peace impels us and this is the beginning, the root of apostolic zeal”. The Pope concluded : “the love of Christ possesses us, impels us, urges us on with the emotion we feels when we see that God loves us”.

 

Daily Prayer!

 

 

 

 

 Daily Prayer

 

 

O My God, 

I place my trust and confidence in You,

who will reward the good and punish the wicked. 

I believe in You and accept everything 

You have taught and revealed.

 

I believe that in one God

there are three Divine Persons –

God the Father, 

God the Son 

and God the Holy Spirit.

 

I believe that God the Son became Man

without ceasing to be God. 

He is Jesus Christ, my lord and my Saviour, 

the Redeemer of the human race. 

He died on the Cross for my salvation

and eternal happiness. 

 

O my God, give me a strong faith.

Help me to believe with lively faith.

 

O my God, all-good and all-merciful, 

I sincerely hope to be saved. 

Help me to do all that is necessary 

to gain eternal salvation. 

 

I have committed many sins in my life, 

but now I turn away from them. 

I am sorry, truly sorry for all of them,

because I have offended You, my God, 

Who are all-good, all-perfect,

all-holy and all-merciful.

 

I love you, O my God, with all my heart.

Please forgive me for having offended You.

 

I promise that, with Your help, 

will never offend You again.

 

My God, have mercy on me.

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, June 30, 2013




Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul


Peter (d. 64?). St. Mark ends the first half of his Gospel with a triumphant climax. He has recorded doubt, misunderstanding and the opposition of many to Jesus. Now Peter makes his great confession of faith: “You are the Messiah” (Mark 8:29b). It was one of the many glorious moments in Peter’s life, beginning with the day he was called from his nets along the Sea of Galilee to become a fisher of men for Jesus.

The New Testament clearly shows Peter as the leader of the apostles, chosen by Jesus to have a special relationship with him. With James and John he was privileged to witness the Transfiguration, the raising of a dead child to life and the agony in Gethsemane. His mother-in-law was cured by Jesus. He was sent with John to prepare for the last Passover before Jesus’ death. His name is first on every list of apostles.

And to Peter only did Jesus say, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:17b-19).

But the Gospels prove their own trustworthiness by the unflattering details they include about Peter. He clearly had no public relations person. It is a great comfort for ordinary mortals to know that Peter also has his human weakness, even in the presence of Jesus.

He generously gave up all things, yet he can ask in childish self-regard, “What are we going to get for all this?” (see Matthew 19:27). He receives the full force of Christ’s anger when he objects to the idea of a suffering Messiah: “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do” (Matthew 16:23b).

Peter is willing to accept Jesus’ doctrine of forgiveness, but suggests a limit of seven times. He walks on the water in faith, but sinks in doubt. He refuses to let Jesus wash his feet, then wants his whole body cleansed. He swears at the Last Supper that he will never deny Jesus, and then swears to a servant maid that he has never known the man. He loyally resists the first attempt to arrest Jesus by cutting off Malchus’s ear, but in the end he runs away with the others. In the depth of his sorrow, Jesus looks on him and forgives him, and he goes out and sheds bitter tears. The Risen Jesus told Peter to feed his lambs and his sheep (John 21:15-17).

Paul (d. 64?). If the most well-known preacher today suddenly began preaching that the United States should adopt Marxism and not rely on the Constitution, the angry reaction would help us understand Paul’s life when he started preaching that Christ alone can save us. He had been the most Pharisaic of Pharisees, the most legalistic of Mosaic lawyers. Now he suddenly appears to other Jews as a heretical welcomer of Gentiles, a traitor and apostate.

Paul’s central conviction was simple and absolute: Only God can save humanity. No human effort—even the most scrupulous observance of law—can create a human good which we can bring to God as reparation for sin and payment for grace. To be saved from itself, from sin, from the devil and from death, humanity must open itself completely to the saving power of Jesus.

Paul never lost his love for his Jewish family, though he carried on a lifelong debate with them about the uselessness of the Law without Christ. He reminded the Gentiles that they were grafted on the parent stock of the Jews, who were still God’s chosen people, the children of the promise.

In light of his preaching and teaching skills, Paul’s name has surfaced (among others) as a possible patron of the Internet.

 

Comment:

We would probably go to confession to Peter sooner than to any of the other apostles. He is perhaps a more striking example of the simple fact of holiness. Jesus says to us as he said, in effect, to Peter: “It is not you who have chosen me, but I who have chosen you. Peter, it is not human wisdom that makes it possible for you to believe, but my Father’s revelation. I, not you, build my Church.” Paul’s experience of the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus was the driving force that made him one of the most zealous, dynamic and courageous ambassadors of Christ the Church has ever had. But persecution, humiliation and weakness became his day-by-day carrying of the cross, material for further transformation. The dying Christ was in him; the living Christ was his life.

US Conference of Catholic Bishops Statement on US Supreme Court Ruling

11.50am ET – Just issued, the following is the statement of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, its signatories listed as the body’s president, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, and the subcommittee chair for the Defense of Marriage, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco:

 

Today is a tragic day for marriage and our nation. The Supreme Court has dealt a profound injustice to the American people by striking down in part the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The Court got it wrong. The federal government ought to respect the truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, even where states fail to do so. The preservation of liberty and justice requires that all laws, federal and state, respect the truth, including the truth about marriage. It is also unfortunate that the Court did not take the opportunity to uphold California’s Proposition 8 but instead decided not to rule on the matter. The common good of all, especially our children, depends upon a society that strives to uphold the truth of marriage. Now is the time to redouble our efforts in witness to this truth.

These decisions are part of a public debate of great consequence. The future of marriage and the well-being of our society hang in the balance.

Marriage is the only institution that brings together a man and a woman for life, providing any child who comes from their union with the secure foundation of a mother and a father.

Our culture has taken for granted for far too long what human nature, experience, common sense, and God’s wise design all confirm: the difference between a man and a woman matters, and the difference between a mom and a dad matters. While the culture has failed in many ways to be marriage-strengthening, this is no reason to give up. Now is the time to strengthen marriage, not redefine it.

When Jesus taught about the meaning of marriage – the lifelong, exclusive union of husband and wife – he pointed back to “the beginning” of God’s creation of the human person as male and female (see Matthew 19). In the face of the customs and laws of his time, Jesus taught an unpopular truth that everyone could understand. The truth of marriage endures, and we will continue to boldly proclaim it with confidence and charity.

 

Now that the Supreme Court has issued its decisions, with renewed purpose we call upon all of our leaders and the people of this good nation to stand steadfastly together in promoting and defending the unique meaning of marriage: one man, one woman, for life. We also ask for prayers as the Court’s decisions are reviewed and their implications further clarified.

 

Meanwhile, the following op-ed has likewise just emerged from the DC-based head of the 1.5 million-member archdiocese for the Military Services, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, whose responsibility for all Catholic servicemen and women and federal employees abroad has seen his charge often placed in the crossfire of recent changes on social policy….

In two decisions today the US Supreme Court avoided a firm declaration about same sex-marriage but signaled that attempts by the federal government to limit rights available under state law could be unconstitutional. By sidestepping the issue of marriage per se, the Court shifts the debate to the states where it is now but raises questions about the scope of the federal government’s authority to administer its own programs. 

In ruling DOMA out of bounds, the Court confirmed Congress’ basic authority to establish rules for federal programs including rules about marriage but has called into question the reach of that authority. While marriage traditionally has been defined by the states, the states have no basis to press the variety of those views on the federal government. 

Until today. It is unseemly that the uniformity of the federal system can now be upset by state policies in this area of life and law. 

In light of today’s Supreme Court opinion, it seems imperative to remind the faithful of the Archdiocese for the Military Services that they must never forget that all, regardless of their sexual inclination, must be treated with the respect worthy of their human dignity. As you know well, the Catholic Faith teaches clearly the biblical principle thatall persons, regardless of their sexual inclination, are called to chastity regardless of their state of life. While today’s decision voids federal law it opens the doors to others: it allows the citizens of each state the opportunity to uphold the true definition of marriage by voting for representatives and legislation that defend the true definition of marriage. I call on all Catholics and men and women of good will to make their voices heard through the democratic process by upholding marriage in their home states. 

I remain confident that people of this great country, no matter the consequences, will continue to promote and defend the good and the truth of marriage as the union of one man and one woman as husband and wife for life. Marriage remains what it has always been, regardless of what any government might say.

I likewise remain confident that the First Amendment Constitutional guarantee of the “Free Exercise of Religion” will forever ensure that no restrictions or limitations on the teaching of the Catholic Faith will be placed on any Catholic priest or deacon serving in the Armed Forces. Furthermore, the Constitution guarantees that no endorsed minister will ever be compelled to perform a religious ceremony contrary to the dictates of his/her faith nor will today’s decision have any effect on the role and teaching ability of a priest or deacon in the pulpit, the classroom, the barracks or in the office. 

This Archdiocese remains resolved in the belief that no Catholic priest will ever be compelled to condone- even silently – same-sex “marriages”.

Elsewhere, this response has just come from the de facto dean of the USCCB’s moderate-progressive bloc, Bishop Robert Lynch of St Petersburg – a former general secretary of the conference (emphasis original):

The S-4 decision of the United States Supreme Court on the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) comes as no surprise and has been anticipated by the bishops of the United States. Most likely not unlike the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion of 1973, this action of the Court will be debated for a long time also.

Also of interest to me was the decision in the Proposition 8 case arising from a state constitutional referendum barring same-sex marriage. In invalidating that action of the electorate for lack of standing of those who brought the proposal forward,the majority of this court left standing for the time being the Florida constitutional amendment passed here in 2008 and thus there will be no change here.

The Catholic Church has a great interest in the definition of marriage since it is one of its seven sacraments. We firmly believe that marriage is and can only be the union of one man and one woman. I pray that no civil legislation will ever require of us or any religion the freedom to define marriage for our own ecclesial purpose.

And in a series of tweets issued shortly after the rulings, Bishop Kevin Farrell – the DC-bred head of the 1.2 million-member Dallas church – said that “In the sheep’s clothing of ‘equality,’ the sacrament of Marriage is being reduced to an ‘exalted conception’ of an institution…. Sexual difference matters… it is essential for marriage. Only through this difference can man & woman speak the language of married love.”

Pope Francis’ General Audience, A Transcript: June 26, 2013

 

 


Dear brothers and sisters,
Today I would like briefly to refer to one more picture that helps us to illustrate the mystery of the Church: that of the temple (cf. Lumen Gentium, 6).
What does the word, ‘temple’ call to mind? It makes us think of a building, a construction. In particular, it recalls to many minds the history of the People of Israel narrated in the Old Testament. In Jerusalem, the great Temple of Solomon was the locus of the encounter with God in prayer. Within the Temple was the Ark of the Covenant, a sign of God’s presence among the people, and inside the Ark were the Tablets of the Law, the manna and the rod of Aaron, a reminder that God had always been in the history of his people, had always been with them on their journey, always directed their stride – and the Temple recalls this story. We, too, when we go to the temple, must remember this story – my story – the story of each one of us – of how Jesus encountered me, of how he walked with me, how Jesus loves and blesses me.
That, which was prefigured in the ancient Temple, is realized in the Church, by the power of the Holy Spirit: the Church is the “house of God”, the place of His presence, where we can find and meet the Lord, the Church is the temple in which dwells the Holy Spirit, who animates, guides and sustains her. If we ask ourselves, “Where we can meet God? Where can we enter into communion with Him through Christ? Where can we find the light of the Holy Spirit to enlighten our lives?” the answer is, “in the People of God, among us, for we are Church – among us, within the People of God, in the Church – there we shall meet Jesus, we shall meet the Holy Spirit, we shall meet the Father.
The ancient temple was built by the hands of men: they wanted to “give a home” to God, to have a visible sign of His presence among the people. With the Incarnation of the Son of God, the prophecy of Nathan to King David is fulfilled (cf. 2 Sam 7.1 to 29): it is not the king, it is not we, who are to “give a home to God,” but God Himself who “builds his house” to come and dwell among us, as St. John writes in the Prologue of his Gospel (cf. 1:14). Christ is the living Temple of the Father, and Christ himself builds His “spiritual home”, the Church, made not of stone materials, but of “living stones” – of us, our very selves. The Apostle Paul says to the Christians of Ephesus: you are “Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone: in whom all the building, being framed together, groweth up into an holy temple in the Lord.(Eph 2:20-22)” How beautiful this is! We are the living stones of God, profoundly united to Christ, who is the rock of support, and among ourselves. What then, does this mean? It means that we are the Temple – the Church, but, us, living – we are Church, we are [the] living temple, and within us, when we are together, there is the Holy Spirit, who helps us grow as Church. We are not isolated, we are People of God – and this is the Church: People of God.
It is, moreover, the Holy Spirit with His gifts, who designs the variety – and this is important – what does the Holy Spirit do in our midst? He designs the variety – the variety, which is the richness of the Church and unites everything and everyone, so as to constitute a spiritual temple, in which we offer not material sacrifices, but us ourselves, our life (cf. 1 Pt 2:4-5). The Church is not a weave of things and interests, it is rather the Temple of the Holy Spirit, the Temple in which God works, the Temple in which each of us with the gift of Baptism is living stone. This tells us that no one is useless in the Church – no on is useless in the Church! – and should anyone chance to say, some one of you, “Get home with you, you’re useless!” that is not true. No one is useless in the Church. We are all needed in order to build this temple. No one is secondary: “Ah, I am the most important one in the Church!” No! We are all equal in the eyes of God. But, one of you might say, “Mr. Pope, sir, you are not equal to us.” But I am just like each of you. We are all equal. We are all brothers and sisters. No one is anonymous: all form and build the Church. Nevertheless, it also invites us to reflect on the fact that the Temple wants the brick of our Christian life, that something is wanting in the beauty of the Church.
So I would like for us to ask ourselves: how do we live our being Church? We are living stones? Are we rather, so to speak, tired stones, bored, indifferent? Have any of you ever noticed how ugly a tired, bored, indifferent Christian is? It’s an ugly sight. A Christian has to be lively, joyous, he has to live this beautiful thing that is the People of God, the Church. Do we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit, so as to be an active part of our communities, or do we close in on ourselves, saying, “I have so many things to do, that’s not my job.”?
May the Lord grant us His grace, His strength, so that we can be deeply united to Christ, the cornerstone, stone of support for all of our lives and the life of the Church. Let us pray that, animated by His Spirit, we might always be living stones of the Church.

How Committed are you to your Faith?

The story is told of a great circus performer by the name of Blondin who stretched a long steel cable across Niagara Falls. During high winds and without a safety net, he walked, ran and even danced across the tightrope to the amazement and delight of a crowd of people who watched. Once he took a wheelbarrow full of bricks and amazed the crowd by pushing it effortlessly across the cable, from one side of the falls to the other. Blondin then turned to the crowd and asked, “Now, how many of you believe that I could push a man across the wire in the wheelbarrow?” The vote was unanimous. Everyone cheered and held their hands high. They believed he could do it! “Then,” asked Blondin, “would one of you please volunteer to be that man?” As quickly as the hands went up, they went back down. Not a single person would volunteer to ride in the wheelbarrow and trust his life to Blondin.

Many people say to Jesus, “Yes, I believe” If you are among who say that, are you willing to demonstrate your belief by trusting your life to Him? Are you willing to get in the wheelbarrow and to risk everything on your faith. That’s what it means to believe. Faith is not just an intellectual exercise. It involves total commitment.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. -Hebrews 11:1

22e13-passionofthechristinbloodoncross

 

 

The Calling to be a Father

2013-06-26 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) The desire to be a father is ingrained in all men, even priests, who are called to give life, care, protection to their spiritual children entrusted to them. This was the focus of Pope Francis homily at morning Mass Wednesday, in the chapel of Casa Santa Marta. Mass was concelebrated by the Cardinal Archbishop Emeritus of Palermo, Salvatore De Giorgi, who was celebrating the 60th anniversary of his priestly ordination. Emer McCarthy reports:

 

“When a man does not have this desire, something is missing in this man. Something is wrong. All of us, to exist, to become complete, in order to be mature, we need to feel the joy of fatherhood: even those of us who are celibate. Fatherhood is giving life to others, giving life, giving life… For us, it is pastoral paternity, spiritual fatherhood, but this is still giving life, this is still becoming fathers. ”

 

Pope Francis was inspired by Wednesday’s passage from Genesis, in which God promises Abram the old joy of a child, along with descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven. To seal this covenant, Abram follows God’s directions and prepares a sacrifice of animals which he then defends from attack by birds of prey. “It moves me – said the Pope – to picture this ninety year old man with a stick in his hand”, defending his sacrifice. “It makes me think of a father defending his family, his children”:

 

“A father who knows what it means to protect his children. And this is a grace that we priests must ask for ourselves: to be a father, to be a father. The grace of fatherhood, of pastoral paternity, of spiritual paternity. We may have many sins, but this is commune sanctorum: We all have sins. But not having children, never becoming a father, it like an incomplete life: a life that stops half way. And therefore we have to be fathers. But it is a grace that the Lord gives. People say to us: ‘Father, Father, Father …’. They want us to be this, fathers, by the grace of pastoral fatherhood. ”

 

Pope Francis then turned to Cardinal De Giorgi, who is marking the 60 the anniversary of his priestly ordination. “I do not know what our dear Savlvatore did,” but “I’m sure that he was a father.” “And this is a sign,” he says pointing to the many priests who accompanied the cardinal. “Now it’s up to you” he said, adding: every tree “bears its own fruit, and if it is good, the fruit must be good, right?”. So, the Pope concluded lightheartedly , “do not let him look bad …”

 

“We thank God for this grace of fatherhood in the Church, which is passed from father to son, and so on … And I think, finally, these two icons and one more: the icon of Abram who asks for a child, the icon of Abraham with a stick in his hand, defending his family, and the icon of the elderly Simeon in the Temple, when he receives the new life : this is a spontaneous liturgy, the liturgy of joy , in Him. And to you, the Lord today gifts great joy. “

A Poem. “From Darkness to Light”

 

 

“Through Darkness to Light” by Christian Adams

 

 

Through darkness to light,

My soul yearns for escape.

The earthly desires entrap my spirit,

And tighten my fate.

The evil around me is encompassing, and tempts.

I look up to You oh Lord,

To lessen its grip.

I pray for forgiveness, for my sin it is great,

Through Your grace its lessened,

And I hope its not too late.

I struggle profusely, with temptation and its charm,

Your embrace and Your love,

Will keep me from harm.

The temptation is like nectar,

From the Evil One’s tree.

Its disguise and its wonder,

Is feigning to me.

But through Your knowledge, Your mystery,

And Your ever present love-

I know that You protect me,

From somewhere up above.

The Earth is a cage, that holds us in mud,

But Your Kingdom, Your teachings,

Can mold us and free us from its hold.

We must not cease to pray for Your guidance, Your protection,

Your passion, and Your love.

 

Daily Reflections of Saint Padre Pio: On Temptation

 

 

 

On Temptation:

 

“The temptations come from the evil of the devil.”

“Despise the temptation and embrace the tribulation.”

Temptations against faith and purity are the merchandise of the enemy.”

“When assaulted by the enemy, he who flees wins.”

“The more the assaults increase, the closer God is to the soul.”

“The more a soul is pleasing to God, the more it must be tried.”

“Temptation is like the soap: it seems to soil but in reality cleanses.”

The temptations seem to soil, but in fact they purify.”

“What a joy there is in spiritual battles!”

“If God lets you fall, is to make you more careful in the future.”

“Hate your faults with a quiet hate.”

“When the enemy roars around you, it shows that he is not within you.”

“The sight of so many souls who wish to justify their evil ways pains me, exhausts my brain, and tears at my heart.”

“God runs after the most stubborn souls. They cost him too much to abandon them.”

“Sin without repentance is a deception of conscience; in essence a sacrilege.”

 

“If you win a temptation, it has the same effect as in washing dirty laundry.”

“The more a soul is liked by God, the more He will be proved.”

“Temptations belong to devil and hell; sufferings belong to God and Paradise.”

“The temptations come from the devil, the sufferings come from God.”

“Despise the temptation and embrace the tribulation.”

“Do not dwell on your temptations.”

“The thought doesn’t make the sin, but consenting to the thoughts does it.”

“Only the free will is capable of good or evil.”

“Temptations against faith and purity are the merchandise offered by the enemy.”

“Don’t voluntarily dwell on what the devil presents to you.”

“When tempted, say to God: “Have mercy on your poor weakling.”

“When the assault of the enemy increases, you are closer to God.”

“When the enemy roars around you, it shows that he is not in you.”

“The more a soul is pleasing to God, the more it must be tried.”

“Temptation is like the soap. It seems to soil but in reality cleans.”

“There is joy in the spiritual battles. Learn how to fight and you will be certain of victory.”

“If God lets you fall is to make you humble and more careful in the future.”

“The devil enters a soul only through one door: the will.”

“We must prepare for temptation if we want to approach God.”

“If you are tempted, that means that God loves you.”

Saint of the Day and Feast Day, June 24th: Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist

 



Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist

Jesus called John the greatest of all those who had preceded him: “I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John….” But John would have agreed completely with what Jesus added: “[Y]et the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (Luke 7:28).

John spent his time in the desert, an ascetic. He began to announce the coming of the Kingdom, and to call everyone to a fundamental reformation of life.

His purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus. His Baptism, he said, was for repentance. But One would come who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. John is not worthy even to carry his sandals. His attitude toward Jesus was: “He must increase; I must decrease” (John 3:30).

John was humbled to find among the crowd of sinners who came to be baptized the one whom he already knew to be the Messiah. “I need to be baptized by you” (Matthew 3:14b). But Jesus insisted, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15b). Jesus, true and humble human as well as eternal God, was eager to do what was required of any good Jew. John thus publicly entered the community of those awaiting the Messiah. But making himself part of that community, he made it truly messianic.

The greatness of John, his pivotal place in the history of salvation, is seen in the great emphasis Luke gives to the announcement of his birth and the event itself—both made prominently parallel to the same occurrences in the life of Jesus. John attracted countless people (“all Judea”) to the banks of the Jordan, and it occurred to some people that he might be the Messiah. But he constantly deferred to Jesus, even to sending away some of his followers to become the first disciples of Jesus.

Perhaps John’s idea of the coming of the Kingdom of God was not being perfectly fulfilled in the public ministry of Jesus. For whatever reason, he sent his disciples (when he was in prison) to ask Jesus if he was the Messiah. Jesus’ answer showed that the Messiah was to be a figure like that of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah (chapters 49 through 53). John himself would share in the pattern of messianic suffering, losing his life to the revenge of Herodias.

 

Comment:

John challenges us Christians to the fundamental attitude of Christianity—total dependence on the Father, in Christ. Except for the Mother of God, no one had a higher function in the unfolding of salvation. Yet the least in the kingdom, Jesus said, is greater than he, for the pure gift that the Father gives. The attractiveness as well as the austerity of John, his fierce courage in denouncing evil—all stem from his fundamental and total placing of his life within the will of God.

 

Quote:

“And this is not something which was only true once, long ago in the past. It is always true, because the repentance which he preached always remains the way into the kingdom which he announced. He is not a figure that we can forget now that Jesus, the true light, has appeared. John is always relevant because he calls for a preparation which all men need to make. Hence every year there are four weeks in the life of the Church in which it listens to the voice of the Baptist. These are the weeks of Advent” (A New Catechism).