Third Sunday of Advent (December 17, 2017)

Our waiting during this Advent season quickens with the appearance of John the Baptist in today’s Gospel.

John was obviously a very charismatic person whose personality and message seem to have caught the attention of many. We’re told that many people came to him to repent of their sins and be baptized. Some must have believed that he was the promised Messiah, even though we hear him deny it very clearly.

John could have become impressed with his own popularity, but he understood from the beginning that he had another mission. He was to testify to the Light who would come after him. With great simplicity and humility, he calls himself “a voice in the desert.” His message has an urgency about it: “Make straight the way of the Lord!” God is coming to his people, so make your hearts ready. What a wonderful example for anyone who ministers in the Church!

You and I carry on John’s mission, and our message is the same: “Make straight the way of the Lord!” We are not preparing for Jesus’ coming as Redeemer as John was. Redemption has been accomplished once for all when Jesus died for our sins and rose to share with us his new life. We are preparing ourselves and our world to receive Jesus when he comes again in glory with salvation for his people.

St. Paul tells us how we are to live as we deliver our message: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in all circumstances give thanks.” Our message and the way we live become the same. Our role is to become more and more open to God’s working holiness in us and through us to others. God. who has called us to be holy, is trustworthy, as Paul tells us; therefore he will do this great work in us.

As we continue our Advent waiting, may we listen carefully to John’s message and make straight the way of the Lord through our daily efforts to rejoice, pray, and give thanks.

“Come, Lord Jesus; do not delay!”