3rd Sunday in Advent Reflection
One stands among you whom you do not recognise, Jesus, the Messiah. Jesus the light of the world stands before them, but they do not see; they cannot see. They have been waiting with longing and anticipation for this day to come, but they do not recognise the reality before their very eyes; this is Jesus who does not fit the model created by their religion.
John is sent as a witness, to speak of the encounter with the Christ. To tell of the light so that everyone might believe through him.
“Nobody sees anybody truly but all through the flaws of their own egos. That is the way we all see …each other in life. Vanity, fear, desire, and competition; all such distortions within our own egos; condition our vision of those in relation to us. Add to those distortions to our own egos the corresponding distortions in the egos of others, and you see how cloudy the glass must become through which we look at each other. That’s how it is in all living relationships except when there is that rare case of two people who love intensely enough to burn through all those layers of opacity and see each other’s naked hearts.” ― Tennessee Williams.
From the many prophets and doomsayers, from the forgers and the gossips, from the vain and the fearful, through the millennia of desire and competition; all have desired to be “the light”, the source of power and the master of destiny.
How is it that you John, of all men, born of woman, can tear open the veil and recognise Jesus, the Messiah, the Light that has come into the world. Was it that graced moment in your mother’s womb when you heard the voice of Mary, the mother of the saviour and the first herald of the joy of the gospel?
Only from an encounter with an-other, can such witness be made; by this witness, I also can come to that sweetness to experience and recognize “God with us”. But first I also need to let go of my own vanity, fear, desire, competition, and all other distortions and addictions that cloud my vision.
It is said that our minds hold us captive to our own illusions. It is as though an entire committee were having a meeting inside our head. All the members talking at the same time; judging and condemning; choosing those images that best fit with our own illusions.
This is the blindness that is bolstered by our own opinions; opinions that are strengthened by refusing to look at reality. We also do not recognize the One among us and with us.
Let us still our minds, letting go of illusions, so that we too may see Reality and experience the Truth. From our conscious awareness of reality and truth, we experienced God who is Love. This experience of love leads us into gratitude; and out of this gratitude flows our joy as Christians called to imitate Mary as heralds of the gospel.
Today is Gaudete Sunday; Rejoice Sunday! It is a day for considering all that we as the Christian community can rejoice about. St Paul admonishes us in the same way as the communities of Thessalonica and Ephesus:
“Be joyful always, pray at all times, be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants of you in your life in Christ Jesus. Speak to one another in the words of the psalms, hymns, and sacred songs; sing hymns and psalms to the Lord, with praise in your heart. Always give thanks for everything to God the Father, in the name of our Lord ‘Jesus Christ. May you always be joyful in your life in the Lord. I say it again, rejoice! Do not worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart. And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe, in Christ Jesus. ”
This is however not a cheap joyousness without responsibility. It is a joy that is found when we discover and carry out our true mission in life, living in integrity and becoming aligned to our calling and ordination.
Isaiah speaks of one anointed and sent to bring good news to the oppressed, words that were adopted by Jesus to describe his own life’s purpose, just as they should also be made real in the life of each one of us. This is the good news that we share in. The grace that is the Cross of Jesus in which converge evil, justice, forgiveness, and love.
John the Baptist prepared the way for the Anointed One and pointed him out. Today John is the model for every one of us: we are called be prophets in our world; we are called to bear witness to the Christ; in the wilderness of human greed, injustice, and falsehood we are called to make straight the way of the Lord.
We must begin with ourselves; calling out energy back to the integrity of our inherent dignity by letting go of all sense of victimhood, all disempowering and destructive attitudes, all negative relationships, all the roots of anger and fear, all the negative emotions of hatred, resentment, bitterness, grief, loneliness, and self-centredness, all those imposed feelings of inadequacy.
To make straight the way of the Lord, it is necessary for us to walk away from any collusion with the powerful, the rich, the famous, and the corrupt. This is a call to conversion. Only then will our voices become relevant, empowering, and life-giving, following the pattern of Mary as the herald of the joy of the gospel.
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