When the messengers of John the Baptist had left, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John. “What did you go out to the desert to see—a reed swayed by the wind? Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine garments? Those who dress luxuriously and live sumptuously are found in royal palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom Scripture says: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, he will prepare your way before you. I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John; yet the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he.” (All the people who listened, including the tax collectors, who were baptized with the baptism of John, acknowledged the righteousness of God; but the Pharisees and scholars of the law, who were not baptized by him, rejected the plan of God for themselves. (Luke 7:24-30)
What John announced – Jesus fulfilled.
John preached a baptism for repentance – turning away from sin and obeying God’s word. And he pointed his disciples to Jesus and proclaimed that he was “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus came to fulfill God’s promise to set people free from slavery to sin, Satan, and death. Through his atoning death on the cross and his rising in glory on the third day, Jesus won for all who would believe in him – full pardon, reconciliation, and adoption as the beloved sons and daughters of the living God.
Jesus speaks the words that fulfill the deepest longings of our hearts. We all want to be loved, to feel that our lives have meaning and purpose. We know that the “handsome garments” of this world, as lovely and enjoyable as they may be, will not fulfill this deep need in our hearts. Jesus reassures us that what we seek is available to us. In his Kingdom, each and every one of us is equally cherished and loved by the Father.
God has a plan for each of us. But we get in the way of the plan. Sometimes its because of a poor self-image. So, we hear the refrain: “I am not important enough to be used by God.”
Sometimes, it’s because we get in the way because we do not own up to a weakness that is separating our hearts from God. We keep that weakness hidden because we feel a shame. But it’s never hidden from God. It comes in a myriad of forms: self-righteousness. Pride that puts us and our achievements paramount. Addiction. Infidelity. Pornography. Deceit. And on and on.
It is precisely this time, this season that should be entering a period of introspection and conversion. The ultimate purpose of Advent is when we renew our first love for God as we ponder his love for us. It’s a time on which to ask whether we’re true to him and recommit ourselves. It’s a time in which we look to see if our relationship with him is passionate, faithful, indissoluble and fruitful. Most of all, true.
It’s the time for conversion of our hearts and ridding ourselves of those actions and word that separate us from Christ.
His plan for us shadows every part of our lives whether it’s becoming a better parent, or being successful in fulfilling the gifts he gave us, or being a better friend who truly listens and responds with compassion, or being successful in our commercial ventures because the end product of those endeavors is to help others.
If God were simply a creation of our own minds, then we would be in charge. But God is real, powerful and active. That is why we need to keep reminding ourselves, “I am not the prophet. I am not Elijah. I am not the Christ. I am a voice crying out, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord’.
You and I are part of His plan. Now is the time for our ego to give way. Now is the time to turn ourselves over to Him. Now is the time when each of is called to greet him at the manger with our hearts filled with love and our minds purified with purpose. Oh Come, Oh Come Emanuel.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, set my heart on fire with burning love for You and for your kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy. May I always radiate you love and mercy and point others to the joy and truth of the Gospel.”
Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel– “among those born of women, no one is greater than John; yet the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he”–imply and confirm his great and personal love for each of us. We are all equals in the love of our Father, who has a beautiful and perfect plan for every human being. It is up to us whether or not we invite him into the daily work, struggles, sufferings, and joys of our lives.