Sunday 13th December, 3rd Sunday of Advent

Gospel of John 1:6–8, 19–28

I am not the Christ.

A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.

And this is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him to ask him, “Who are you?” he admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, “I am not the Christ.” So they asked him, “What are you then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?” He said: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” Some Pharisees were also sent. They asked him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

The way John the Baptist lived  reminds us to to wake up and face the shocking destructiveness in our world with courage, and to acknowledge what happens when we try to escape the reality that surrounds us. John knew the deep truth of who he was, ‘I am not the Christ’, but one who could recognize Christ and bring others to Jesus. John didn’t evade solitude or confrontation. Two elements that many of us readily try to avoid today. Instead, if we reclaim the truth of who we really are, we enable the light in us to shine John’s life was one of praise and service. He selflessly, proclaimed the gift of God to others with a freedom that led to great joy, even when he was imprisoned.

In a world that is surrounded by false news and watered down reality, John shows us how powerful the truth is. Likewise, if I continually discern the truth in my life with humility and service , it will lead to the Joy of encounter with God.

Mary Ward, also lived a life with truth or verity at her centre. We have many of her speeches and letters in which she shared the connection between humility, service and seeking truth. Here is an excerpt from her 3rd speech on ‘Verity’ or truth.

I will declare it so that you may understand it by and by. But first I entreat you to remember that you love and seek truth and the knowledge it bringeth you unto for the end which it bringeth you to which is God…It is truth to know that God can and will effect all and all is easy in Him...Mary Ward 3rd Verity Speech St Omer December 1617.

This Advent, I hope to grow in the gift of discernment, where I too can seek the truth and do justice.

I pray that in the Spirit of John the Baptist and Mary Ward I will be awake to light of the Advent road that leads to the fullness of love and joy that is God.