Saturday, December 10, 2011

Third Sunday of Advent: John The Baptist, what a good preacher...

John called himself "the voice" (John 1, 23). He made his voice the text of Isaiah "Prepare the way of the Lord" (Isaiah 40, 3).

John's obsession was that the word of God could reach hearts. He wasn't taking the place of the Word of God (John. 1, 20; John 1, 26).
John prepared the way, made straight the path, made sure that when the Lord came he could especially reach those far away.
One day a professor in the art of speech was giving this criterion: the true and good preacher directs his words to those who are far from him, not only physically but emotionally and psychology speaking.
When I preach I especially need to reach those in the back of the church or those who do not come to mass often or those who may be here in body yet their attention is not fully engaged in what is happening during Mass. What a beautiful job I have!
Maybe you come to Mass yet you feel apart from God or you think that you are not worthy to be forgiven or loved, or maybe you are away from our Catholic Church and its teachings, maybe you don't understand the rites, the new translation of the responses...
If that is your situation my concern is to preach in a way that you don't leave this place without being touched by at least one word of God.
This is the challenge for me, other priests, the seminarians in our convent- our future priests. "Don't preach to the one that is close by, preach to the one who is far away from the Church"
Every time I preach I need to especially remember the one who came to mass to give God "one last chance" or the one who said "I am going to go to Mass to see if God makes something happen in my life”. These are the ones to whom I need to preach and touch with the Word of God.
John is the model for preachers. What a different result there would have been if he had preached a message filled with compliments to the religious people of his time. No, instead he preached to those that were far from God, he preached repentance and the forgiveness of sins. Their answer and ours needs to be: Thank you Lord, because you thought of me, thank you Lord because I know that this message is for me.
My brothers and sisters, God is calling you and me to return to Him! (Mt 3, 1-2).
It is a strong message, yes, and a good one, for those who need to go back to Him. It is bad news for the Pharisees and Sadducees of our time who think: “I am religious, I am pious, I have enough comfort in my life and I even have friends in politics that can assure me security...”
The ones who were far from God and the ones today who are in need of forgiveness must say: “God is calling me to go back, God wants me back, God is waiting for me this Advent and Christmas”.
Someone will ask; Why these readings? Why on this Sunday? Because the birth of Jesus is near and believe me He has so much to give...
In the first reading there is a clear joy for the visitation of God to His people.  “When God calls us back to Him, He wants to bring us the glad tidings of His love; He wants to heal our broken hearts; to proclaim liberty and release us from the sins that make us captive.  He wants to bring His joy, justice and praise to all.  He wants us to make straight the way to the Lord and primarily He wants us to recognize His Son, Jesus Christ.”
My question for you today is: Is the way to your heart open? Is the door of your heart unlocked so that Jesus can give you what He wants?
That is the spirit of Advent, the time when we hear John’s voice crying out in the desert to prepare the way to the Lord by reconciliation with God.  That is why John’s voice and my preaching focus on repentance and the forgiveness of sins.
If as a fruit of this meditation, or as a fruit of this moment of prayer or as a fruit of John the Baptist’s preaching, you will realize that something is missing from your life today; if you realize now that that “Someone” is missing and that that “Someone” is Jesus-- your hunger is going to open wide the way to Him. Congratulations for your desire to open the doors of your heart to the Savior. God brings us today to the best banquet but if He doesn’t find hunger there is no way we can be fed by Him.
Let us pay attention my brothers and sisters to the VOICE of John, now that Christmas is near. Let’s ask God for a humble and contrite heart, sorrow for our sins. Jesus is near; Jesus heals and saves especially those that were far away. For those who think that Christmas is something for others to enjoy, this Christmas is for you also.
Dear Lord, help me to show who you are to others, especially those who do not really know you or have forgotten your goodness. For this I need to know you more intimately each day. Then, I like John the Baptist, can decrease as you increase. Help my testimony to be a faithful one, expressing more your love than mine, more your truth than my ideas. I want others to see you, Lord. May I never be an obstacle to their vision. I know you will shine in my world, more so if I am faithful to my vocation and seek only the Father’s glory.

Some resources to improve this third week of Advent:

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