Jesus calls men to grow in holiness by vigorously engaging in the Spiritual Combat. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by pursuing the Virtue of Magnificence so he can heroically engage in the Spiritual Combat and by cultivating the Virtue of Fraternity so he can build a band of Catholic brothers.
2nd Week of Advent – Thursday – Mt 11:11-15
Responding to the disciples of the imprisoned John the Baptist, who was jailed by King Herod because John denounced Herod’s adulterous and incestuous “marriage”, Jesus quotes the prophecies of Isaiah, which predicted that a forerunner would precede and announce the coming of the Messiah. Jesus now proclaims to the crowd that John the Baptist is the new Elijah, in reality, a mysterious and stunning confirmation that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah.
Jesus begins by revealing that John the Baptist, the fierce and bold prophet who lived a rugged and austere life in the wilderness, is the greatest man (none greater) who has ever lived; this means that John is on par with all the Old Testament prophets (Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Daniel, Elijah) and is a stunning claim which certainly must have shocked the crowds. John’s greatness does not come from his own efforts, but because he has been created and inspired to be the one who announces the coming of Jesus; Jesus cryptically alludes to John’s place in the Kingdom of Heaven, a place he will shortly take when he is murdered by having his head cut off by Herod. Jesus puts John’s human greatness in perspective; as great as John is on earth, the lowliest saint in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he.
Though obscure, Jesus seems to refer to the beginning of a new era of Spiritual Combat which men will wage in the age of the Messiah; men will do violent battle with evil and sin to make their way into Christ’s Kingdom. Jesus reveals that John the Baptist is the long-anticipated return of the combative Old Testament prophet Elijah, the one who will announce the Messiah.
Be awed by Jesus Christ
Be awed by Jesus’ Divine Knowledge of eternity: Divine Knowledge, Jesus has intimate knowledge of the holiness of every single man who has ever been born and how they rank; Divine Prophet, Jesus has a perfect knowledge of the teachings of all the prophets and effortlessly calls on their prophecies to teach men; Son of God, Jesus creates prophets across the ages and inspires Isaiah, Elijah, and John the Baptist to announce His coming; Divine King, Jesus enters into the world to engage in the Spiritual Combat, to defeat Satan, and to call His men to heroically battle temptation and sin.
Heroically engage in the Spiritual Combat
Realize: Today’s Gospel reading is a special reminder and challenge to every man, who is naturally endowed by God to fight, protect, and defend, to recognize and engage in the ongoing violent reality of the Spiritual Combat against evil.
Believe: Reflect upon the Spiritual Battle (CCC 405, 407-409, 921, 1496, 2015, 2516, 2573, 2725, 2752).
Pray: Almighty and Most Gracious Father, help me build the Virtue of Magnificence (a part of Fortitude) so I can more vigorously engage in the manly and heroic Spiritual Battle against Satan’s many temptations and magnificently strive to reject sin and grow in holiness every day of my life.
Build a band of Catholic brothers
Realize: Every Catholic man who commits to the Spiritual Combat needs holy brothers in arms, to help strengthen him in the battle against Satan and the demon hordes.
Believe: Reflect upon the power of the Communion of Saints (CCC 946-962, 2683).
Pray: Jesus, Leader of the Apostles, the Original Band of Brothers, help me build the Virtue of Fraternity (a part of Justice) so I can be inspired and strengthened by the great Catholic men of yesterday and today by drawing closer to the Saints and building my own band of Catholic brothers.