Jesus is cryptically announced by St. John the Baptist. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by seeking the Gift of Piety from the Holy Spirit so he can be transformed by the liturgical life of Christ’s Holy Catholic Church and by seeking the Gift of Fortitude from the Holy Spirit so he witness for Jesus Christ and can commit to and prepare for martyrdom. 

Liturgy

3rd Week in Advent – Sunday Cycle B – Jn 1:6-8, 19-28

Commentary

John the Baptist, the last and greatest of the Old Testament prophets, confirmed that all the ancient prophets of Israel, ultimately point to the Incarnation of Jesus. Calling Jesus, “the light”, the Baptist’s “witness” to the coming Messiah was dangerous, for it challenged both the Jewish power structure and the political and economic control of the Romans. Indeed, the Baptist’s growing following prompts the Jewish religious leadership in Jerusalem to send priests, Levites (assistant priests), and Pharisees (hyper-religious Jews) to interrogate and discredit him. 

The Jews first want to know “who” the Baptist is. Because the Baptist used the prophetic sign of baptizing in the Jordan River, wore distinctive clothing, and lived an austere lifestyle in the desert that resembled the powerful prophet Elijah, the Jews push John, seeking to know if he is the long-anticipated end-times figure who would usher in a new era for Israel; various names were associated with this mysterious figure including Elijah, “the Prophet” (like Moses) and even the Messiah.  The Baptist denies being any of these (though Jesus reveals he is Elijah in mission and spirit – Lk 1:17); the Baptist confirms he is the forerunner of the Messiah by quoting Isaiah’s 700-year-old prophecy (Is 40:3). 

Given the Baptist has denied being Elijah, the Prophet or the Messiah, the Jews then want to know “what” he is doing by baptizing in the Jordan, a powerful symbolic sign of entry into the Promised Land (Josh 3:15-17). Rather than answering the “what” question, John humbly returns to the “who” question, pointing towards Jesus, noting his own nothingness (“not worthy”), and the truth that the long-awaited Messiah is mysteriously hidden nearby, and will soon make a spectacular appearance; John’s strange and exciting words are proven true the next day when Jesus arrives to be baptized. 

Be awed by Jesus Christ

Be awed by how Jesus prepares John the Baptist to be His forerunner: Person of the Trinity, through the prophets He created and inspired, Jesus builds longing for His Incarnation as the Messiah/Christ for centuries; Divine Power, Jesus creates, protects, and provides for John the Baptist during his upbringing and his time in the desert; Divine Knowledge, Jesus guides John to encounter Him in ancient Scripture and directs John as to how to reveal His coming.   

Be transformed through Piety

Realize: The Incarnation of Jesus is a Creation-altering event for which God prepared the world beginning in Eden (Gen 3:15); every Catholic man has the opportunity to be spectacularly renewed through the Advent of Christ in their hearts. 

Believe: Reflect upon how God Prepared for the Coming of Christ (CCC 522-524).

Pray: Holy Spirit, give me the Gift of Piety so I am filled by You with a vigorous awe and love of the Liturgy and the Sacraments, I am moved to live a rich liturgical life of prayer and the frequent reception of the Sacraments, and I always do my best to honor and glorify God each day in my own little way. 

Commit and prepare for martyrdom

Realize: Like the death of Jesus on the Cross, Isaiah and John the Baptist were martyred; Jesus commands that His disciples must “pick up their cross”, which is a call to sacrifice, witness and even martyrdom. 

Believe: Reflect upon Martyrdom (CCC  313, 523-524, 558, 1434, 2473, 2506).

Pray: Holy Spirit, give me the Gift of Fortitude so I can always have Your supernatural help to prepare me to lay down my life for God and His Church if it be Your will that I should die as a martyr to build Christ’s Kingdom.