Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10
Advent is a time of longing. It is a time to recognize that in all our hopes and dreams we are reaching out for the “one who is to come.” To use the words of St. Augustine, Advent is a time to “exercise our desire” for God.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, John the Baptist and his disciples express their longing for a Messiah when they ask Jesus if he is the “one who is to come”. How does Jesus respond? He simply recounts to them what they have seen. The sick are healed, the blind are given their sight, and the poor have the Good News preached to them. Jesus was the one Isaiah had foretold would come and the one John had prepared the way for. He was the one who would bring an eternal kingdom.
Over 2,000 years after the birth of Jesus, many in our world still await a Messiah. They are imprisoned in ignorance, abusive situations, poverty, or their own sinful choices. They are looking to us to answer this question for them: “Is Jesus the one we are waiting for? Is Jesus the one who can save us?”
How are we to answer them? What can we point to in our lives to show that God is at work in the world, freeing us from sin, changing lives, and bringing peace?
They know that the world cannot offer them what they truly desire, but they are also not yet convinced that Jesus is the answer. They want to see what difference a life lived in relationship with God makes. Will they be able to see that by looking at us?
Each of us, through Baptism and Confirmation, has received the Holy Spirit. This same Spirit empowered Jesus to preach the Good News to the poor and to perform miracles. This same Spirit raised Jesus from the dead. Because the Holy Spirit dwells within us, Jesus can say in today’s Gospel that the least in his kingdom is greater than John the Baptist. John the Baptist probably never understood that Jesus would die for his sins. He never read the New Testament. He never received the Eucharist as we do. And so, we have a power at work in our lives that even he could not understand.
Like the priests, prophets, and kings of the Old Testament, we have received an anointing. It is now time for us to put that power of God to work serving others so that the world can see for itself what difference a life lived for Jesus makes. Only by seeing our lives transformed by the peace which only God can give will the world come to know that Jesus alone provides the answers that the people of today are seeking.
Where do we begin? We begin right here and right now with the people around us. It is by showing kindness every day to the people we bump into that the transformation can start. If I can hold a door open for someone or say a kind word to a teenager, then I will have an open heart for the beggar who asks me for change or the hitchhiker who needs a lift to the gas station. Our acts of mercy will leave people wondering what motivates us to be so kind. Through our goodness, they will come to know Jesus who is the source of all goodness. And knowing him, they will have grasped the answer to the longing of their hearts.
Douglas Sousa, S.T.L.