THURSDAY HOMILY: John the Baptizer and Taking the Kingdom by the Force of Love
He was a man who understood that life wasn't all about him. He emptied himself willingly and was thus able to reveal Jesus to others
The choice is ours. Just as it was with John the Baptizer. He shows us the way to give away our freedom in love - and then find it anew in the One who truly sets us free. (John 8:36). The kingdom of heaven is still being taken by force.The force of love.
CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - During Advent, we are regularly presented with two very important people in God's loving plan of salvation, Mary, the Mother of the Lord, and John the Baptizer, the forerunner. They offer us, by their example, a key to human freedom and flourishing. That is being emptied of self - so that we can be filled with the life of God.
On this Thursday of the Second week of Advent I proclaim this Gospel at today's Mass: "Jesus said to the crowds: "Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force. All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come. Whoever has ears ought to hear." (Matt. 11:11-15)
The "violence" which characterized the Baptizers zeal for the kingdom was not directed against others but against sin, the greatest impediment to progressing in the kingdom or reign of God. It is that force of love which we are invited to imitate as we continue our preparation during Advent. We must root sin out of our lives to make room for Jesus Christ.He must increase and we must decrease.
St Josemaria Escriva wrote in Christ is Passing By, "A Christian can rest completely assured that if he wants to fight, God will take him by the right hand, as we read in today's Mass. It is Jesus the king of peace who says on entering Jerusalem astride a miserable donkey: "The kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence and the violent are taking it by storm." This violence is not directed against others. It is a violence used to fight your own weaknesses and miseries, a fortitude which prevents you from camouflaging your own infidelities, a boldness to own up to the faith even when the environment is hostile." (#82)
From the very earliest moments of his life, John the Baptizer showed this kind of fighting spirit, this zeal for the Lord and his kingdom. When Our Lady went to visit her kinswoman Elizabeth she was carrying the Incarnate Word and Elizabeth was carrying John. The Gospel of Luke tells us: "When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said:"Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb."
"And how does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled." And Mary said: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior." (Luke 1: 41-47)
Living in the first home of the whole human race, his mother's womb, this last Prophet of the Old Testament and First Prophet of the New responded to the arrival of Jesus the Savior with a dance of Joy. St. John the great theologian records in his Gospel where John the Baptizer explained the reason for his joy:
"The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. So this joy of mine has been made complete. He must increase; I must decrease." (John 1:29 - 30) John the Baptizer was a man of Joy because he was a man of true humility!
He was a man who understood that life wasn't all about him. He emptied himself willingly and was thus able to reveal Jesus to others. He was the "best man" at the wedding. His humility opened a space within him for true joy to take root and set him free! John is a sign of contradiction for this age, drunk on self worship and lost in narcissistic self absorption.
John points us along the path to true freedom, a lifestyle of self emptying." He must increase and I must decrease". This emptying leads us to ongoing conversion; becoming a new creation. (2 Cor. 5:17) John is a man to be imitated in both life and death. We learn from him to live our lives as joyful penitents; ever aware of our utter dependency on God's grace. It is sin which leads us into slavery and takes away our joy. Only by being freed from its entanglement can we become happy. (See, Romans 6: 6, 7 and Gal. 5:1) John still points to Jesus, in both his birth and his martyr's death. That is why we celebrate both.
Two millennia after his illustrious mission as the harbinger of Christ, we readily accept, as we should, his prophetic role in the revelation of God's plan of salvation and the advent of the Gospel. Yet, how might we have seen John if we had been his contemporaries? Would we have so readily accepted him, or ...
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Year of Faith News
- True and False Spirituality: Beware the Friends of Job or How to Deal With Fair-weather Friends
- WEDNESDAY HOMILY: Finding God Where You Would Rather Not Look
- TUESDAY HOMILY: Holy and Unholy Ambition
- We Need a New Pentecost: Come Holy Spirit, Come With Your Fire!
- MONDAY HOMILY: I Do Believe, Help My Unbelief!
- SUNDAY HOMILY: The Happy Priest - Come Holy Spirit
- Peter and John, Two Pillars and Two Paths
- FRIDAY HOMILY: Follow Me
- THURSDAY HOMILY: Father, May they Be One. Do We Pray and Work for Christian Unity?
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?