Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am sending it again so that my blog gets updated; pardon the inconvenience.
No one pretends to be what he is not in the desert; it is too obvious. St. James says be patient for the Lord is coming soon. Also be patient with the difficulties of ordinary life for the Lord or your death is coming sooner than you think. Advent is a reminder of this.
John the Baptist was put in jail to shut him up but his witness from the jail shouted all the more loudly. To John it did not matter if he was in jail or not since his only concern was to announce salvation; he could do that no matter where he was. The gospel before this one said when they put you in front of governors and kings for my sake don’t worry about what you will say at that time. It will be the Spirit of your Father who will speak in you. Perhaps it is the injustices of these kings or governors that is most in need of healing or salvation and require the presence of a saint. In NY, and other places, this is very true, any volunteers?
The humility of John is really something amazing. He sends his disciples to ask: are you the Messiah or should “we” look for another? He includes himself in this question. If Christ says yes, his disciples leave him and go with Christ. He’s done. Even if Christ is not the Messiah John knows that Christ is greater than he. He has no pretentions. He has this ability to wait without end for God to act. He has an eagerness to wait. His waiting reflected his trust in God and also the thrill of seeing what would Christ do now! Solzhenitsyn wisely said, “Hastiness and superficiality are the psychic disease of the twentieth century.” It is even worse now.
After Jesus lists the signs of what the Messiah would do he ends with a statement that sounds like a Beatitude: Blessed is the one who takes no offense at me. Or blessed is the one who does not stumble or is not scandalized because of me or what I do.
Pharisees are always scandalized by what Christ does: he heals on the Sabbath, he forgives sins, he eats with public sinners, etc. Jesus’ deeds cause many to stumble and sin by denying God’s goodness. Christ is that stone. It can either become part of the foundation and carry some weight, or it will cause one of the workers to trip and fall. Which one are we? The sending of Christ by the Father is an event so definitive and all embracing that one cannot remain indifferent. Either one has to be healed by the Messiah or reject him.
The greatest scandal of course is the cross of Christ. John has no problem accepting his imprisonment and his eventual death or what the prophets said would happen to the Christ. Only those like Mary and John totally embrace the cross and transform it into part of the foundation that gives them stability and fullness of life.
The rector of the seminary here is from Italy and the event that led him to go hear the talks offered in his parish was when his father took a day off of work to go on the weekend retreat. He never saw his father take off a day for anything in his life. He thought if this can make my father change, I better go and see what they are saying. Many years later he was sent as a seminarian to the US and has been here for thirty years.
But John takes no offense at what Jesus says or does. How many people today take offense when they are told to go to confession, or marry in the Church, or stop seeing that woman, and they leave and go to another church? Not John.
The image of John as a reed in the wind is very appropriate for him. John adopts himself totally no matter where he is. He can be in the desert and live perfectly happy on locusts and wild honey with one set of clothes, or he can be in jail and be totally content. For me I need to have this or that, toast that is not too dark, and tea that is the right temperature, in the right cup, etc.
John shows us how to wait, to be patient, not to rush, to take time with people and with God. The second part of Advent starts on this Tuesday, the 17th, where we make a more immediate novena for the preparation of Christmas. Let us reflect on John’s life a bit and ask his help so that Christ to be born in us, and reach maturity in the coming years.
The parish is grateful to those parishioners and friends who generously donate to help meet our needs. Although our renovation costs and utilities are high, our budget is as modest as we can make it. The parish relies especially on Christmas offerings, which can be made directly or through our online WeShare at https://stjosepher.churchgiving.com Your help makes it possible for us to meet the needs of the parish and to do the work of evangelization. Thank you for all your support especially in these
closing days of the civil calendar.