3RD SUNDAY OF ADVENT – B
John 1:6-8, 19-28
Jesus is “the reason of the season” and at the same time “the reason to rejoice in all seasons”!
Today is GAUDETE SUNDAY! It is a day of rejoicing because the Savior is close at hand! St. Paul reminds us in the second reading: “Always be joyful!” It is not just about joyful expectancy that Christmas is very near but a reminder that Jesus is the reason to rejoice in the midst of life’s pains, sufferings and tragedies.
“There is no man born of a woman greater than John the Baptist,” says the Lord. The greatness of John the Baptist lies in his being the greatest prophet and witness par excellence. As a witness, John the Baptist was a sign pointing to someone greater than himself. And yet he knew his place in this great drama; he knew he was just a messenger, a mere voice! When the people flocked to him, he could have used that opportunity to magnify himself but in all his humility he said “I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandal; he must increase, I must decrease.” Our greatness does not depend on what others think of us; it does not depend on earthly powers, not even on popularity. It hinges in our personal relationship with God; on how we are able to carry on the mission entrusted to us. The higher we go up in the ladder of life, the more we need to be rooted in our nothingness before the all-embracing providence of God!
To be a witness today may not require us to shed our blood like what the early Christians did in professing their faith. To be a witness means to live the faith in an extraordinary way; it is to be a sign pointing away from the self but towards others. It is the un-selfing of one’s ego, of one’s personal agenda and anything about self-consumption towards filling up the needs of others who have less in life. It is the movement of breaking from the constriction of self in order to be outpoured to those who are wanting so that they may have more in life. This is not about the destruction of the self but rather the emptying of anything that is un-godly to give a space for the presence of the divine who wants to indwell in our hearts!
John the Baptist also reminds us: “Standing among you, unknown to you, is the one who is coming…” How often do we recognize the Messiah walking in our midst? We wait for him and look for him in the grandest of things but he comes though incognito amongst the poorest, the lowest and the least. Unless we humble ourselves and learn to stoop down in the caves where the Unknown is lying amongst the crib of inhumanity, we will miss the divine encounter we have been longing for.
A radical change of heart is what we need for us to encounter the Savior! It is only through a heart willing to bleed out of love for God and others that we can truly celebrate our continuous birthing together with the eternal birthing of God in the Eucharistic manger of self-giving!