Homily: John the Baptist - Waking Others Up to Reality
By Mons. Peter Jeffrey:
I think John the Baptist liked to shock people. But he did it for a good reason. He lived in a world full of poverty and injustice. He wanted people to wake up to this reality and come to see their responsibility to do something about it.
We light candles in Advent to remember that Christ can bring light (guidance and warmth, if you like) into our daily living and into our world. Also Christ’s light can burn away what may be holding us back from our full potential.
The season of Advent is a great time to experience God’s compassion in the sacrament of Reconciliation. You will see on the Bulletin that we are celebrating Reconciliation (3rd Rite) on Thursday week – 19th Dec. Together we will listen to some Scripture that will enable us to reflect before God on what has been going on in our daily life. After that ‘examination of conscience’ and an expression of our sorrow for any sin, we will receive a general absolution. This will bring us an inner freedom and readiness to celebrate wonder of the Christmas feast.
Let me go back for a moment to John the Baptist. He is Jewish and he is preaching to fellow Jews. But, because he is considered a Christian saint, it’s possible for us to overlook that he is a Jewish prophet calling the Jewish people to repentance – as prophets had done for centuries before. He directly confronts the Pharisees and Sadducees – calling them a ‘brood of vipers’. They are not to rest assured in their being part of this chosen People of God - the children of Abraham- because ‘God can raise up children of God from these very stones’.
I mention that because this very stark message may apply to those of us may feel secure in our Christian or Catholic identity. We can hear John the Baptist telling us that God can make Christians from these stones. This may shock you – but there is no inherent value or guarantee of salvation simply by being Christian. John would say something more is demanded.
The One who is to come will baptise “with the Holy Spirit and with FIRE”. Does the presence of Christ burn within us. I ask myself “Am I on fire with the love of Christ and do I recognise His presence in others?” I was shopping this morning at Woollies and the tall ‘check-out’ lad (who happens to be a parishioner at St. Mary’s) was radiating joy not just because he was ‘making a buck’ but because he was helping people.
We have been baptised with the Holy Spirit and with FIRE – it is so easy to overlook ‘the fire’. If we call on the Holy Spirit – even in the hectic build-up to the holidays and the Christmas season – to be joyful, we will be giving an invaluable gift to others.
In this Advent journey may we as our 2nd Advent candle says PEACE, then next week JOY and the final one is LOVE.