“Go back to Socrates: "Know thyself." For Socrates, there are only two kinds of people: the wise, who know they are fools; and fools, who think they are wise. Similarly, for Christ and all the prophets, there are only two kinds of people: saints, who know they are sinners; and sinners, who think they are saints. Which are you?” - Peter Kreeft: (Is a professor of philosophy at Boston College)
Gospel Text: (MT 11:11-15)
Jesus said to the crowds: “Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force. All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
Prophets make us feel very uncomfortable when they speak. While their message may be instructive or consoling at times, they usually challenge the lowly and the powerful to clean up their act and pay attention to what God is doing. John the Baptist was such a prophet. He is one of the principle characters in the Advent season. As the final prophet before the Messiah appeared, John was a herald’s voice in the desert preparing the way of the Lord. With courage and perseverance, John proclaimed a baptism of repentance which led to the forgiveness of sins.
In today’s gospel, Jesus gave a tremendous compliment to John as the return of the prophet Elijah. The Jews at that time believed that the prophet Elijah would return when the Messiah was revealed to Israel. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” Mal. 3:23. But the Jewish leaders missed the boat because their eyes were fixed on a political Messiah who would free them from Roman rule and restore the Kingdom of Israel. John and Jesus did not fit the bill. After centuries of waiting for the Messiah, few were prepared to accept Jesus. What a shame.
It is a beautiful thing to be used by God to point people to Jesus, the Son of God. John was faithful to his mission right to the end. You and I have a similar mission 2000 years later. We enter the Advent womb seeking spiritual birth for ourselves and the entire Church. In a real sense Jesus is everywhere calling us to deeper union with him and each other.
Behold the Lamb of God…