john the baptist

Tomb of St. John the Baptist at a Coptic monastery in Lower Egypt. The bones of St. John the Baptist were said to have been found here.

During the Cycle A Readings for Advent we hear from John the Waymaker (the Baptist) in prison at the end of his life (Cf. Matthew 11:2-11). During the Cycle B Readings we hear Jesus testify about who John is (Luke 7:24-30). Now during Cycle C, we get to encounter John the Waymaker right at the beginning of Luke’s narrative about him at 3:1-6.

Luke’s narrative about the John the Waymaker opens up with a very dark and ominous overtone. He begins by dropping the names of all the evil characters in play at the time; Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate, Herod, and the High Priests Annas and Caiaphas. These were more than just simple names; these were figures of everything that was wrong in Jerusalem at around 29 A.D.; foreign rule, corrupt leadership, and a broken religious system. It would be like a conservative Catholic making chronological record of these days by saying it was during the reign of Obama, during the Senate leadership of Reid, and during the Bishopric of [insert names of a couple liberal Catholic Bishops here]. That this was the worst of the worst of times for God’s chosen people is the portrait that Luke is painting, and we will continue to encounter these same names throughout the rest of his Gospel account.

Yet, not only is it the worst of times, it is also the fullness of time that had been prophesied. For, it was in this moment when:

    “. . . the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert. John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:

      A voice of one crying out in the desert:
      “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.””

During the time of Joshua the Israelites crossed the Jordan river into the promised land. The priests had carried the Holy Ark of the Covenant before them into the river and the waters flowing upstream halted at its presence, and the people crossed over on dry ground into Jericho (Cf. Joshua 3:1-17). We can also say that John the Waymaker baptizing in the Jordan is a type of crossing over into the fulfillment of God’s promise of redemption and salvation.

Advent season is a great time to return to the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, to confess and repent of your sins before the Lord and receive His forgiveness. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been away. Just return to the Sacrament and lay down all those burdens and attachments of the world and allow God’s grace to wash them away. There is no better feeling in the world than to leave the confession booth and know that you’re back on a clean slate with God; that there’s no sin or secret proving to be an obstacle in your relationship. In contrast, when we are too ashamed to confess our sins openly, Satan is able to use them against us to cause damage in our relationship with God and neighbor, and to also weaken us in our calling.

Therefore, go to confession and lay it all out in presence of Christ Jesus, and enjoy the grace afforded to you through the Sacrament to receive the Lord in a newness of spirit.

As you reflect upon the readings at Mass today, here are some questions for you to consider:

  1. When John the Waymaker was in prison he may have felt at his lowest in life, but God was still giving Him His best. When were you at your lowest, but God was still giving you His best?
  2. How do you take advantage of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. Some have a devotional practice of confession, others less frequently. How often do you need to go to be the best you?
  3. Place yourself in John the Waymaker. What does it feel like to know what God has called you to do with your life and having the audacity to go out and do that job 100%.

Jesus, I await your coming.
Your coming into my heart,
into my life,
into my family
into my job,
into my finances,
into my awaking, my resting, and my sleeping.
Into all of my comings and my goings.
Come Jesus, Come Jesus, Come Jesus.
All that I have is yours.
Remove from my life what grieves you, heal in my life what pains you, and bless in my life what glorifies your Holy Name.
Come Jesus.

Scripture texts in this blog are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.