Dec. 10, 2015 Thursday: 2nd Week of Advent C
John the Baptist is truly an Advent figure. He gives us a sometimes uncomfortable reminder that Christmas is much more than a time to make and spend money. Christmas has nothing to do with material gain; it is a challenge to renewal and repentance.
We are struck by the tremendous tribute which Jesus pays to John. There has been nobody greater than he. But this praise is followed by the startling phrase that, “the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he”. What can this mean? It is something I have often wondered about.
It is William Barclay who gives the best explanation that I have seen. He tells us that what was lacking in John was that he had never seen the Cross. This being the case, Barclay tells us that the full depth of God’s love was something that John could never experience or know. And so even the humblest Christian who has experienced the Cross of Jesus is blessed to be able to know God’s love more deeply than the great John the Baptist. This is indeed an unmerited gift of God to us.
Note however, that Jesus does not say that we are necessarily better than John. Yes we may be more blessed than he was but that will be more blessed than he was but that will be of little benefit to us if we do not appreciate the love that God has shown us. John had a role to play in God’s plan for our salvation and he fulfilled it heroically. His was the task to prepare our hearts to meet Jesus and to show us the way to a relationship with God which he would never experience in his lifetime. Ours is the calling to follow Jesus through the way of the Cross in order to give witness to his love for all people.
How blessed indeed are we to be called to follow Jesus! May this be the light that shines on us as we welcome him into our lives this Christmas.
(Fr. John O’Mahony, SVD Bible Diary 2007)