Third Sunday of Advent (December 17, 2017)

Today’s Gospel speaks of John the Baptist. St. Francis de Sales unfolds aspects of John’s character that we could all start to develop in our hearts during Advent:

John the Baptist dwelt in the desert like a rock, immovable in the midst of all the waves and tempests of tribulation. We, on the other hand, change according to time and season. When the weather is fine, nothing can equal our joy. But when adversity storms in on us, we become disheartened. We sometimes get upset even for the littlest thing that is contrary to our liking. As a result, our peace of soul cannot be restored until long after we have had to use many “healing ointments.” In short, we are spiritually fickle, not knowing what we want. One minute we are light-hearted. The next minute we are harsh and bitter. We are reeds, tossed about in every direction by every mood and humor.

John the Baptist tells us that we need to even out these ways for Our Savior’s coming, our path to wholeness. All the saints to a degree did this but none perfectly. In each of them something marred the perfection of their equanimity of spirit. This was true even for John the Baptist. Yet, we must become disciples of John the Baptist. We must look into our actions, reforming those that are not of good intentions and perfecting those that are. Our goal is to act with only one intention: conforming ourselves to the true image of God in us. For the reason why Jesus came, was to show us our true self in God.

We must remember God’s grace is never lacking, and if we are faithful in cooperating with the first grace God gives us, we will receive many more. For this reason in Holy Scripture, God recommends us to be faithful in following our good impulses, insights and inspirations. When we do this the greatness of God’s infinite mercy will surely shine through.

(Adapted from L. Fiorelli, ed., Sermons of St. Francis de Sales, V.4)