Dear Believers in Miracles,
John the Baptist is back in action this week in Luke 3:10-18. On this Third Sunday of Advent, John is in the desert to baptize. John is very clear about how to prepare for the Savior. Whoever has two cloaks should give one to a person who has none. Whoever is collecting more than the required amount of taxes should cut it out. We should not practice extortion and we should not falsely accuse anyone. We should be satisfied with our wage. I love the fact that John calls people into direct service as we wait for our own salvation. Salvation rests in how we treat one another. This message is often far from our daily lives. John rocks this message of hope!
Remember that Luke, as a gospel writer, always speaks on behalf of the poor. John is in the thick of things as he admits that he is not worthy to loosen the thongs of his cousin’s sandals. He prepares us with unbelievable images of salvation and the clearing of sin and division in the world. John has a strong and vigorous voice in his longing for mercy and forgiveness by God. Luke puts into the mouth of John these incredible words of justice for people on earth. This is the real preparation for Christmas, that all people shall inherit the dignity of their lives and that all people shall live in harmony on this planet that is also in need of God’s help.
This Third Week of Advent has traditionally been called, “Gaudete Sunday.” This means that we are more than halfway to Christmas and our lives and hearts are called to rejoice!
Rejoice! John is longing for this promise in the middle of the hot desert. He understands that Jesus, through his presence and ministry, becomes the revelation of salvation. Rejoicing is key to our lives as we enter such a mystery. We are almost there, but not yet. However, we understand that what we wait for is the coming of the Kingdom in the end of time. We wait for more than the baby since we already did that many years ago. Salvation is in our hearts waiting to bear fruit in our day and age.
The reading from Philippians 4:4-7 gives us this message of hope. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near….” I hope that we all hear that God’s presence and his gift of redemption are truly for us even when we think we are knee deep in the weeds. We are called to rely on God even when our marriages are on the rocks and our children don’t seem to care about us anymore. We are called to fill our hearts with gratitude even on the days when we don’t get our way or when the Church is filled with controversy and darkness. Rejoicing seems dim after all we have been through in these past two years. Yet, rejoicing comes to us when we give over our very lives to God in Advent. There is nothing that stands in the way of such beauty, grace, and love as God’s desire to heal and guide our lives.
John boldly expresses that Jesus’ winnowing fan will clear the threshing floor. John tells us that there is nothing in our hearts that will not be made clean and refreshed. I thank God for John’s voice in our lives. I thank God for all of you, who believe in such miracles.
God give you peace,
Fr. Ron Raab, CSC, Pastor