2nd Sunday of Advent:
A patient called up her doctor. Something is wrong with her; she needed emergency treatment in her house. “Can you have somebody fetch me because my car broke down today?” the doctor said. “My husband and my children are here,” the patient replied. ‘All of them can drive but I can’t allow them to get you because I’m afraid of their safety. Besides, my car is brand-new. It might be car napped or be dented from an accident. Why don’t you just flag down a taxi so that you can come here?” The doctor got a taxi and set out to his patient’s house. Immediately he checked her up. “You have a serious case of hypertension; your blood pressure is very high. Unless you do something drastic about your condition, you will die,” the doctor said. “Can you take this medicine regularly?” “I can’t,” was the patient’s reply. “I’m a busy person. I have many other things to do.” “Can you refrain from eating fatty foods and have a low-salt diet?” the doctor asked her again. “I can’t because they are my favorite. And how can I have appetite for food lacking in salt? ”Can you at least do some exercises?” you really need to lessen your weight and improve your blood circulation,” the doctor said. “I can’t because I just want to relax, eat and sleep.” “Then there is one thing I can do,” the doctor said. “What is that?” asked the patient. “I will contact funeral parlor and advise its agents that you will be dead any day from now. I might get a bigger commission this time! The doctor replied.
Just like this doctor who gave an advice to his patient on what to do, today’s gospel talks about Saint John the Baptist who proclaims baptism of repentance which leads to the forgiveness of sins. Saint John the Baptist has a message to tell to us about Jesus Christ. Who is John the Baptist? Why is he important to us especially in this season of Advent?
John the Baptist is a messenger. He is a messenger because he applies the Old Testament prophecies to Jesus. His life, however presents still a much greater message for it foreshadows the implications of loyalty to God’s work: simplicity of lifestyle and fearlessness in preparing the path for the coming of God’s kingdom. John is part of the good news through faithfulness to his mission.
We too can be messengers. Has it ever occurred in our minds that we are where we are now because God wanted us to be there or here? Maybe we go to another place because of financial reason s for our family but have we ever considered that we are where we are now because of God’s plan? Nothing happens by accident for those who love God. We are where we are now because God has a mission for us to do there.
John the Baptist is a man of prayer. He is a man of prayer and therefore, he is closed to God. He knew that if we want to change the world, we have to start with ourselves. He led a simple life.
In order to experience God who is with us, we need to go for a desert experience like Saint John the Baptist and that is to be alone with God and pray. But to pray one requires certain aids. First is simplicity. In an urban life, we are easily enchanted by what is pretty, plastic and superficial. In order to pray, we have to get rid of this excessive baggage because it blocks our way to Christ and to seeing things as they are. The second aid is silence. We need to be still, to be healed of our disturbed spirits. We need a place of quiet in order to calm our tingling nerves and hear God speaks. The third aid is solitude. We cannot allow ourselves to be driven all the time by an instinct to perform, to produce and to do many things. Sometimes we have to stand in solitude to discover who we are and who our God is.
John the Baptist is an authentic person. He lives what he preaches. By his lifestyle, his dressing and eating habits, he shows that the meaning of life is not to be found in the abundance of material possessions but in relationship with God. Simplicity of life and detachment from unnecessary cares and worries of social life frees the heart for a personal relationship with God. To go into the desert is the first step in true repentance. It means abandoning our usual hiding places and putting ourselves in a situation where God can easily reach us. He is authentic because there was nothing shady about him. He was genuine through and through. His lifestyle lent credibility to his preaching. He did not take up a collection; he did not enrich himself from his preaching.
Like Saint John the Baptist, let us be authentic too. Is there something of Saint John the Baptist in us at all: a messenger, a man of prayer and an authentic person?
Fr. A. Francis HGN