3rd Advent Sunday

​​The patron saint of my university is John the Baptist. When you entered the school’s church, the first thing encountered was a modern representation of John the Baptist. The artist did not try and produce a “life-like” statue. I remember that he seemed somewhat strange – he was extremely tall, wore little clothing, carried a large staff and seemed to have a wild face. Needless to say, it wasn’t a piece of art that initially drew a person in to reflect. And yet, the more I think about this somewhat strange figure, John the Baptist, the more I see the similarities between ourselves and him.

​John preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. His was a proclamation of preparation in order to receive the gift of the Incarnation, of allowing ourselves to accept the loving movement of God to us. It is as if we dreamt of this moment, that indeed he would come. With his coming, we must now ask ourselves what it all means. It cannot be denied that God’s coming to us in Jesus Christ reveals to us the “crazy love” God has for each of us. We may sometimes think that we have so distanced ourselves from God that we have moved beyond the grasp and gaze of his heart. The coming of the Lord loudly proclaims that this is not the case, nor can it ever be the case. When the incarnational love of God touches our heart, we cannot remain as we have been. Love changes everything. It is this change, this transformation that is occurring that leads us to a similar a vocation similar to John the Baptist.

​In the First Reading, the Prophet Isaiah lays out the concerns and activities of God’s people. He writes: “he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” This is the same passage Jesus would later read when he began his public ministry. What is clear to me is that when love touches our hearts, and we know it because we feel it, our hearts must necessarily grow stronger by becoming more gentle and tender. The reason why we do anything or say anything is our response to the love of God revealed in Christ. We are called to share love and to build love. We are called to defend love and to insist on love. We are called to give love and to receive love. As John prepared himself and others for the first coming of the Lord, our task is to prepare for his return. If John preached a turning away from sin, we preach a turning towards love. We cannot preach love, however, if we do not love. And so church, in the hope and anticipation of his return, we are called to be the “strange ones” in our world by proclaiming love and tirelessly working to grow it. This is not an ideology or a political platform; rather, it is the human response to Divine truth. We are loved and so we desire to share it. We are held by love and so we desire to hold another in love. We have had our hearts transformed by love and so we desire to transform the world by love, one heart at a time. Our hearts exult in the Lord because we are coming to accept and know that the “the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”

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