Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Be careful what you ask for...

December 9, 2007
Second Sunday of Advent
Mass Readings:
Isaiah 11:1-10
Romans 15:4-9
Matthew 3:1-12

The First Sunday of Advent calls us to watch and pray for the return of Jesus. The Second Sunday of Advent calls us to prepare the way for Jesus' return. Our readings this week give us a very familiar yet perplexing scene with John the Baptist. The prophets had been proclaiming that the Messiah was coming and that there would be a herald who would prepare the way. Problem was that the people hearing the prophecies had their own ideas of who and what the Messiah should be. For centuries, the people had been crying out for the Messiah but when he wasn't what they expected, well, you know what happened. I remember being told by my grandmother that I should always be careful about what I ask for. Her warning was a sound one. I often times get what I asked for but it isn't in the form I wanted! I think my grandmother was right on target.

Our Gospel text is an interesting one. The people had known for centuries to be on the lookout for the messenger who would prepare the way for the Messiah. So they watched and they waited. Then what happens? They get John the Baptist and he isn't what they expected! Here is this wild looking man wearing smelly animal skins and eating things that would make us nauseous! On top of that he is telling people to get right with God because he is on his way! If we saw someone like John the Baptist today we would call the police and have him arrested!

So here the people are faced with a problem. This messenger is not nice and shiny like they expected God's messenger to be. Do they ignore him or do they listen. If they ignore him then they might miss out on the Messiah. If they listen to him, then they have to suspend their preconceived ideas and be vulnerable. Hard choice. So what do the Pharisees and Sadducees do? Well they hold onto their preconceived ideas but they go out to be Baptized by John, well, just in case. They are sitting on the fence trying to keep a foot on both sides. They got what they asked for but they don't want it. They aren't sure if they want this so just take a bit and hold on to the old. Just in case, you know, they are wrong. John won't have any of it!

The Pharisees and the Sadducees are so concerned with their own salvation that they are shopping around. Just in case this wild man is the real thing, they will have him baptize them but then they will keep looking. This idea really ticks off John and he lets them have it. He knows what is in their hearts and it isn't the desire to truly be open to God but rather get a "free pass" into God's good graces. They didn't want God's messenger to be this wild man but they would dabble their feet in the water just in case. Be careful what you wish for.

We are called to prepare the way for the Lord. We have been given the Messiah and salvation is ours if we let ourselves be open to God's touch. But that means we have to be vulnerable to God's will and receive the Messiah as he is and not how we think he should be. We can't play around and try and get a "free pass" by dabbling our feet in the water. We have to dive in and let ourselves be lost fully to the Messiah. Then we go forth and prepare the way by proclaiming the Good News of Salvation.

The old saying goes, "It's all about me". John the Baptist tells us that no it isn't! To prepare the way means that each of us has to be willing to accept Jesus and his call fully. That may sound easy but it can be very hard. It requires us to step aside and let Jesus be the Messiah and we be the servants. We are not in any way shape or form the Master. We are not in control. We need to get over ourselves and proclaim Jesus pure and simple! We called out for the Messiah and God delivered. We must accept Jesus as he is and not try and make him conform to our will because it just isn't going to happen that way.

We have been given a share in Jesus' ministry and that is an amazing gift. Let us not throw away that gift because we are hung up on our own agendas. Let our agenda be one that is filled with only the desire to proclaim the Good News and transform the world with the love of God! Let us go forth and prepare the way because Jesus is coming and we don't want to miss him all because we are busy trying to find a Messiah that fits our own agendas. Let's get a little wild like John the Baptist and prepare the way of the Lord!