Luke 3:1-6 Adventure during Advent
Prepare the way of the Lord.
In Today’s Gospel passage, St Luke writes: “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee…the word of God came to John”. How funny! In one swell swoop, St. Luke reduced the emperor, a governor and a king to rubble and propelled a “nobody” to a “somebody”.
In other words, none of the big wigs received the word of God. None of the “Who’s Who” got it; only a “nobody” did.
Every valley shall be filled and every mountain shall be made low.
Revolutions do not start from the top. They start from the bottom. They do not begin in palaces or suburbs. They begin in the sewers and slums. God’s revolution began not in a city or palace; it began in a desert and stable.
A voice crying out in the desert: Prepare the way of the Lord. The rich and powerful do not claim the desert for themselves because they consider it a wasteland and a waste of time. But what they deem to be worth nothing, a waste; God does not, and He uses it to great use. From the desert, John the Baptist emerged and proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
A revolution had begun.
Repentance and Forgiveness. A licensed therapist and counselor recently told me that the vast majority of adults in America have the emotional capacity of a twelve-year-old. I immediately believed it. People are so easily offended and hurt by what others say and do.
Doesn’t it shock you at how easily offended atheists can get by a manger scene, or by students praying in school, or that grieving relatives place crosses on the roadside? Are you shocked at how so many people in the Middle East can be offended by an offensive statement made against their faith? Are you even more shocked at how they respond to offense by going on the offensive?
You would think that if everyone were so easily offended, then there would be more love and more understanding in our world today. You would think that there would be more listening and respect in our world. Well, there isn’t. There isn’t!
I don’t know about you, but I have never changed my opinion or any of my actions because someone told me that they were offended by what I said or did. However, I did change my life and have changed my opinions because of how the Lord loved me unconditionally. That was something new for me. That was shocking and wonderful to me! That is what changed me. That is what will change the world!
Adventure in Advent. When the British atheist, Christopher Hitchens, was alive, he wrote a book on the life and mission of Mother Teresa. He basically called her a fiend, a fraud and a fake. How did she respond? Did she tell him that she was highly offended by his remarks? No. She just kept doing what she knew how to do very well. She kept on loving, forgiving and giving. In a certain sense, I guess she kept offending him, right?
People who are highly offended tend to be very offensive; whereas, people who are holy tend to be highly forgiving. That’s why it is time to follow a different star; the star of forgiveness and repentance.
Now, I am no Mother Teresa (can’t you tell?) but I can say that I have been spit on and ridiculed because of my faith and the priesthood. And I can honestly say that I have never told anyone that I was offended. Never!!! I may have told them other things, but I have never gone up to someone and said: “What you told me was very offensive.” You know why? Because it comes with Christ’s territory.
John the Baptist never told anyone that their words offended him. Mary never told anyone that their words offended her. Jesus never told anyone that their words offended him. Why? Because they knew it wouldn’t make a difference. But they knew something else would.
If you want to be another Christ, then be prepared to be offended, but also get ready to shock your distracters with love and forgiveness. It is these moments that convince people you follow the Lord.
This week, the Church asks us to follow a certain star that will get us closer to the child Jesus. That star is John the Baptist; the star of shock and wonder; the star of repentance and forgiveness; a star that shines the brightest when it is surrounded by darkness.
This is Advent. Maybe this is where the word adventure comes from.