Hopefully I am back on track as of now!!
3rd Sunday of Advent: Gaudate!
A man came, sent by God.
His name was John.
He came as a witness,
as a witness to speak for the light,
so that everyone might believe through him.
He was not the light,
only a witness to speak for the light.
This is how John appeared as a witness. When the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, 'Who are you?' he not only declared, but he declared quite openly, 'I am not the Christ'. 'Well then,' they asked 'are you Elijah?' 'I am not' he said. 'Are you the Prophet?' He answered, 'No'. So they said to him, 'Who are you? We must take back an answer to those who sent us. What have you to say about yourself?' So John said, 'I am, as Isaiah prophesied:
a voice that cries in the wilderness:
Make a straight way for the Lord'.
Now these men had been sent by the Pharisees, and they put this further question to him, 'Why are you baptising if you are not the Christ, and not Elijah, and not the prophet?' John replied, 'I baptise with water; but there stands among you - unknown to you - the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo his sandal-strap'. This happened at Bethany, on the far side of the Jordan, where John was baptising.
If you live in Ireland, or nearly everywhere in the West in these days, you may ask yourself, what is there to rejoice about. What is there to be happy and jumping about, because the entire outlook is so bleak. It is as if the world is ending, the worst is yet to come, brace yourself for a storm, all the clichés are dished out with relish. The truth of the matter is, we have been like this for the last four years. I came across a little play we put on in the parish four Christmases ago, 2007. I was shocked! The same things we are talking about now were in the lines of that short sketch. Fear about jobs, fear about mortgages, fear about it all. Did you notice that all this fear has one thing in common? There is a thread that unites it all; money! The fear that is projected that we are all supposed to be crippled by is economics. It is as if the only way that we can be happy is by having a healthy bank balance and when that is sorted, all is sorted. Yes it is true that one of the most serious causes of stress is money; if you have money worries yourself, you know exactly what that means. Sleepless nights, endless calculations and recalculations, hoping the books will balance. However a bit of perspective can help us find the balance between genuinely worried about what we need to survive and what is 'unnecessary anxiety' - a phrase some colleagues were fond of using, after the Our Father in the 'old dispensation'!
John gives us perspective. The Gospel begins :
'A man came, sent by God.