The scholars tell us that John the Baptist 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 and did not have a family and career.
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 and practiced what he preached,
people were attracted to him.
They came to be baptized because they had broken God’s law, were not happy or were looking for more.
They came to the Jordan because they wanted to be righteous in God’s sight.
They came to be baptized 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.
No Jew would talk to them, give them any notice, or show them any respect. In the eyes of their contemporaries they were traitors they were to be shunned every by their families and friends
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 just like Jesus would do during his ministry.
You see in addition to being a prophet, John was also merciful man who accepted anyone who was repentant no matter what they had done.
During his papacy Pope Francis has preached about God’s mercy over and over again. He went so far as to declare an extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy.
Pope Francis wants the institutional Church to be more merciful, he wants all 1.2 billion members of the Church to be more merciful, and he wants us to be 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]”
We the Church should always promote the reconciliation with adversaries Our Common life should be occasion to promote solidarity, hope and justice in the world.
Catholics should be the hearlds of 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 sacraments, and it also needs to flow through each and everyone of us.
Yes, God shares his mercy with us and through 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 is the perfect time for every Catholic to lovingly and gently help people seek God Mercy. (Mercy Monday Last Call)
And when someone seeks God’s mercy we need to grant it recklessly without reserve… for that’s how God loves.
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