The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2014. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com
“Comfort, give comfort to My people, says your God. Speak tenderly.” Isaiah 40:1-2 The Lord promises to comfort and speak tenderly to us. In the second reading, the Church proclaims in the name of the Lord that “the heavens will vanish with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire” (2 Pt 3:10). How comforting! In the Gospel reading, we meet St. John the Baptizer, one of the least comforting characters in the Bible and in history (see Mk 1:2ff). The Lord’s ways are not our ways, and His idea of comfort is not our idea of comfort (see Is 55:8).
The Lord does not want to give us the superficial comfort of temporary relief or a bit of encouragement. Rather, the Lord promises to baptize us in the Holy Spirit (Mk 1:8), the Paraclete, the Comforter (see e.g. Jn 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7). This divine Comforter will free us from generations of slavery, sin, guilt, and punishment (Is 40:2). Comfort will begin with the Holy Spirit convicting the world and us of sin, justice, and condemnation (Jn 16:8). Then we must let the Spirit lead us from conviction to repentance, confession, and forgiveness. After this, we will personally experience that “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor 3:17). In the comfort of the Spirit, we will truly enter into the freedom of the Lord. We will displace the culture of death with a civilization of love and life. Come, Holy Spirit of Christmas and comfort!
Prayer: Father, comfort me Your way. Promise: “Here is your God! Here comes with power the Lord God, Who rules by His strong arm.” Is 40:9-10 Praise: Jesus came forth from the tomb; “Truth shall spring out of the earth” (Ps 85:12). Praise the risen Jesus, “the Way, and the Truth, and the Life” (Jn 14:6). (For a related teaching, order our leaflet, Seek the Gifts of the Spirit, or our four series of tapes on Gifts of the Spirit starting with audio AV 3A-1 or video V-3A.)
Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from December 1, 2014 through January 31, 2015.Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 30, 2014. The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2014, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net
John the Baptist’s life was fueled by one burning passion – to point others to Jesus Christ and to the coming of his kingdom. Who is John the Baptist and what is the significance of his message for our lives? Scripture tells us that John was filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15, 41) by Christ himself, whom Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. When Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth John lept in her womb as they were filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41). The fire of the Spirit dwelt in John and made him the forerunner of the coming Messiah. John was led by the Spirit into the wilderness prior to his ministry where he was tested and grew in the word of God. John’s clothing was reminiscent of the prophet Elijah (see Kings 1:8).
John broke the prophetic silence of the previous centuries when he began to speak the word of God to the people of Israel. His message was similar to the message of the Old Testament prophets who chided the people of God for their unfaithfuless and who tried to awaken true repentance in them. Among a people unconcerned with the things of God, it was his work to awaken their interest, unsettle them from their complacency, and arouse in them enough good will to recognize and receive Christ when he came. Are you eager to hear God’s word and to be changed by it through the power of the Holy Spirit?
Jesus tells us that John the Baptist was more than a prophet (Luke 7:26). John was the voice of the Consoler who is coming (John 1:23; Isaiah 40:1-3). He completed the cycle of prophets begun by Elijah (Matthew 11:13-14). What the prophets had carefully searched for and angels longed to see, now came to completion as John made the way ready for the coming of the Messiah, God’s Annointed Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. With John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit begins the restoration to the human race of the “divine likeness”, prefiguring what would be achieved with and in the Lord Jesus.
John’s baptism was for repentance – turning away from sin and taking on a new way of life according to God’s word. Our baptism in Jesus Christ by water and the Spirit results in a new birth and entry into God’s kingdom as his beloved sons and daughters (John 3:5). Jesus is ready to give us the fire of his Spirit that we may radiate the joy and truth of the gospel to a world in desparate need of God’s light and truth. His word has power to change and transform our lives that we may be lights pointing others to Christ. Like John the Baptist, we too are called to give testimony to the light and truth of Jesus Christ. Do you point others to Christ in the way you live, work, and speak?
“Lord, let your light burn brightly in my heart that I may know the joy and freedom of your kingdom. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and empower me to witness the truth of your Gospel and to point others to Jesus Christ.”