Advent Reflection, Sunday, December 15, 2019
By: Bob Hetherington
We have arrived at the Third Sunday of Advent. Advent is a separate season, not just the build up for Christmas. Keeping Advent is what makes the Church’s approach to Christmas very different from how the larger culture approaches Christmas. In the shopping malls, the Christmas music began long before Thanksgiving.
Advent is a challenge for each of us because we live in multiple worlds. There is so much to do this time of year – shopping, partying, organizing, and traveling. It is so easy to be distracted and lose sight of things that matter. We try so hard to get Christmas right. It is also true that the more the season is hyped, the more many people feel out of sync with the Christmas build up.
One of the sharpest contrasts between “Church Christmas” and “World Christmas” is John the Baptist. (You will never find a mall display highlighting John the Baptist this time of year.)
What can we say about John the Baptist?
• He was connected to Jesus. He was a cousin. He baptized Jesus in the Jordan River.
• He was from the wilderness – an outsider.
• He had a stern message: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”
• He pointed beyond himself in a spirit of deep humility: “There is one coming after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
The challenge this season is to prepare a place in our hearts for John the Baptist. It begins by creating quiet space in the hustle and bustle of the season.
• Who are God’s messengers who come to us from the margins of life?
• In repenting our sins, what do we turn away from? What do we turn toward?
• How can we be instruments of God’s love and blessing?
John the Baptist was an instrument for God. He looked beyond himself to the One who was to come. In this holy season, how can we be instruments to bring peace and blessing to others?