Strange like John
3rd Sunday of Advent, Year A
6-9 year olds
In the Gospel this Sunday, Jesus talks about his cousin, John the Baptist. Remember John the Baptist from last week? He is the one who was telling the people to repent, to make straight the path of the Lord. John the Baptist points us to Jesus. We thought about how we might prepare the way of the Lord by listening to the Word of God and by receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation.
In today's Gospel, Jesus directs us to notice the clothing of John the Baptist. This was interesting to me because John the Baptist's clothing was also mentioned last week:
Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist. (Matthew 3:4a)
Clothing is not often mentioned in the Bible. We never hear what Mary wore, for example. It is not a detail that is often included, so when it clothing is mentioned, we have to ask ourselves why. What does God want us to know?
Jesus asks the people what they had expected to see when they went out into the wilderness to see John the Baptist:
What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces.
The people knew very well that John the Baptist was not a prince in a royal palace. So Jesus asks them again,
What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
The people knew when they went out to the wilderness that John the Baptist was the strange guy in camel's hair with a leather belt. They knew what that meant. John the Baptist was a prophet--someone who listened so carefully he heard God speaking to him and had to tell everyone what he had heard.
But Jesus reminds the people that that is not all they know. In the Bible we are told about only one other person who wears a leather belt. It is Elijah the prophet. In the Bible we are told that Elijah will return to prepare the way of the Messiah. John the Baptist wears a leather belt. John the Baptist is a prophet. John the Baptist tells the people to repent, to prepare the way of the Lord. Jesus is telling the people, look, you know who John the Baptist is, and you know who I AM.
Why is this important for us to know today?
We already know that Jesus is the Messiah, the chosen one of God. We also know that, all those many years ago, John the Baptist prepared his way. So?
We have to remember that this is the season of Advent, the season of preparing. We have to recall that although Jesus has already died and risen to new life never to die again, that risen life has not yet spread to all people, to all creation. So, can we be like John the Baptist? Can we help prepare the way of the Lord into the world today? Can we also point others to Jesus?
John the Baptist was strange. He lived a strange life. But people were fascinated. They were attracted. They went out into the wilderness to see him. And many of them listened and repented and were ready then to receive Jesus.
I wonder if our lives seem strange to others. We go to Mass on Sunday. Many people in the world do not. People may find you strange because you go to church, but they may also be attracted and want to know more. You may find that people are fascinated by your life.
By living your life in this strange way, you are like John the Baptist, pointing to Jesus. By your life, you invite others to listen, to repent, and to receive Jesus.