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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Advent's Hero: St. John the Baptist

Last Sunday's homily focused on St. John the Baptist, the shining light of the Advent season. John, the precursor, fasts and prays in the desert. How many of us would be content to eat locusts and wild honey and wear John's rough garments? He gives us the guidebook to follow saying,  "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord.'" John is not "the one;" he is merely the "voice," the megaphone, as Father described him, urging us to prepare our hearts for Him.

Is it any surprise? Remember, John is the first to recognize Jesus and honor Mary as the tabernacle of the Lord when he leaps in the womb of Elizabeth. It is he who is the first evangelist (after Mary) enlightening his mother Elizabeth and preparing her to receive the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Like Mary, John magnifies the Lord pointing him out to all who will listen. "There is the lamb of God; I am not worthy to unfasten the strap of sandal." He sends his own apostles away, redirecting them to the "Lamb of God," the one whose way he has prepared.

"He must increase; I must decrease," says John. There is no self pity in that statement, only the recognition that when the bridegroom arrives, the best man fades into the background. John takes us to the Jordan where we are washed in the waters of baptism, repenting of our sins in preparation for the coming of the Christ, the Savior of the world. So come to Jordan's banks and "hear the Baptist's cry announcing that the Lord is nigh."

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