Don’t Shoot The Messenger

Each Advent, John the Baptist appears on the scene clad in camel’s hair and eating locusts and wild honey. I can imagine that John, even in his own time, was considered a bit of an eccentric. He comes out of the desert and enters the region around the Jordan River to prepare people’s hearts for the Messiah. The prophet Isaiah foretells his coming:

“Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’”

John was the messenger. He was the voice announcing the long awaited Savior. He wasn’t flashy or polished; he was not likely very refined. He was a salt of the earth man of deep humility, who warned his followers to prepare the way and clean up their act.

There is something beautiful about a voice that brings good news. Perhaps it was your doctor giving you positive test results, when you expected something very serious might be wrong with your body. Or maybe it was the voice of your newborn child uttering her first sounds, as she made her way into the safety of your waiting arms. Maybe the voice bringing good news was that of a family member who struggled with addiction or mental illness and finally found their way to healing. There is something beautiful and consoling about a voice that brings good news!

John was a messenger for his time, who came to bring the good news that many had been waiting to hear. As the messenger, he fielded questions about who he was and who this Messiah would be. John answered the questions, offered a little “fire and brimstone” and baptized those who came to the river with a baptism of repentance for their sins.

John took a risk in carrying the message of Christ to the people of his day. In the end, his head ended up on a silver platter. Maybe some of us have had that same experience? It is not always easy to be the messenger. It is not always easy to speak the truth.

Father Steven gave a beautiful homily a few weeks ago on the idea of speaking the truth in love. Jesus always told people the truth. It wasn’t always the truth that people wanted to hear, but he spoke it in love. Many people today are confused about what is really true. They are looking for something to believe in or a rock on which to stand. As disciples, we are called to speak the truth but to do so in love.

As I write this article, we are about to graduate our first Alpha course class. Nearly 50 people made a commitment to listen to the story of Jesus over the course of the program, which began in September. For many, it was a reawakening of a faith that had sustained them through many years. For others, it was a new discovery that God is alive and well, and wanting a personal relationship with each of his children. It was indeed a great blessing to watch the groups become more cohesive as the program went on from week to week. I suspect there will be a lot of fruit for our entire parish community as a result of the Alpha course.   This is truly a message that everyone needs to hear.

We have two candles burning on our Advent wreath this week. Advent is a season of preparing again for the One who is to come, the promised Messiah. It is easy to get caught up in the festive holiday happenings all around us. This beautiful season calls us to wait with expectant hope for the coming of Christ. We are called to be silent and still, so we can hear the first cries of the only Son of God as he enters humanity. We are called to bring our gift to the manger, a heart that is cleansed of sin and ready to greet the Newborn King. We are called to shatter the darkness of this world by shining the light of Christ within our hearts.   Jesus is coming and the world will be forever changed by his birth.

I want to invite each of us to spend a little time preparing our hearts for the greatest gift the world has ever known. A beautiful way to do this is to visit our adoration chapel, where we will meet Jesus, present in the Blessed Sacrament. We don’t need to worry about what to say or what to do, because he wants to invite us to just spend time with him. Let us prepare our hearts for the coming of the Savior.

In Christ,

Deacon Tim

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