He lived and breathed like you and me
The scholars tell us that he may have been a member of the Essene community.
They were a group of Jews who separated themselves from the rest of the Jews and tried to live a more ascetical and focused religious life.
This may be why John the Baptist lived in the desert by himself and spent his energy preaching repentance.
When we read the Gospels it becomes clear that John
was a man driven to proclaim the truth no matter what the cost.
We all know that in the end his prophetic witness would cost him his life.
When he preached John minced no words.
He said what he thought God wanted him to say without fear or hesitation.
Because he was authentic, practicing what the preached,
people were attracted to him.
They came to be baptized because they had broken God’s law or were not happy.
They came to the Jordan because they wanted to be righteous in God’s sight.
They came because no matter who they were or what they had done John accepted everyone.
Case in point the soldiers who came to John in today’s Gospel were probably Jewish soldiers working for the Romans or their puppets.
No self respecting Jew would talk to them, give them any notice, or respect. In the eyes of their contemporaries they were traitors.
Yet John spoke with them and encouraged them.
It was the same with the tax collectors they were also Jews who worked for the Romans and were despised by the Jews.
Yet, John spoke with them saw their potential and challenged them to live holy lives.
You see in addition to being a prophet, John was also merciful man who accepted anyone who was repentan,t no matter what they had done.
This past Tuesday, Pope Francis opened the Holy Door at St. Peter’s to begin a Jubilee Year of Mercy.
This will be only the 29th Holy Year in the church since the tradition started more than 700 years ago. For some of us this will be the last Holy Year.
Pope Francis wants our church of 1.2 billion members to be more merciful and more welcoming toward sinners.
All of us need to be more generous and more forgiving. All of us need to let go of past hurts and reach out to those who hurt us.
Our Holy Father proclaimed
“The church is the home that accepts everyone and refuses no one … the greater the sin, the greater the love that the church should show toward those who [repent]”
This Holy Year should be a time of reconciliation with adversaries and an occasion to promote solidarity, hope and justice in the world.
During Holy Year, we who celebrate God’s limitless mercy and should engage in corporal works of mercy.
We must never forget that God’s mercy flows through the Church,
the sacrament and also needs to flow through each and everyone of us.
In the Gospel of this Third Sunday of Advent, John the Baptist is asked by the people what they should do to prepare for the coming of the Messiah.
John’s response starts out with what we call the “corporal works of mercy.” “Let the person with two coats give to the person who has none.
The person who has food should do the same.”
In other words, show mercy to those in need — without conditions.
This Advent and this Jubilee Year is the perfect time for every Catholic to lovingly and gently help people seek God Mercy.
And when mercy is sought we need to grant it recklessly without reserve… for That’s how God loves.
We will be speaking at the beginning of the new year on how we as a Parish will live out this Holy year
On this gaudete Sunday or joyful sunday, we have reason to rejoice… for God’s limitless Mercy is ours for the taking and ours to share Amen