Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!
Third Sunday of Advent AD 2005
“The Christ”
“There shall come one after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to loose.”[1]

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
Preface of Advent

    Today, as last week, we hear of John the Baptist.  Last week it was our Lord who spoke about him, today we hear what he has to say for himself.  He is an interesting character in his own right, and it will help to understand the Gospels better if we know a little bit about John.

    The Gospels tell us that John was a cousin of our Lord, or really a second cousin, for Mary the Mother of Jesus and Elizabeth the mother of John are said to be cousins.[2]  We know, further that Elizabeth was married to a priest of the Old Law named Zachary, and that both Elizabeth and Zachary were descended from the priestly family of Aaron (the brother of Moses).[3]  This relationship is significant, for we always think of our Lord as belonging to the Kingly family of David, but we must also recognize his priestly lineage—Jesus was both priest and king.

    Saint John was born in his parent’s old age:  “Elizabeth was barren: and they both were well advanced in years.”  He was something of a “miracle child,” much like the Old Testament priest Samuel was born to the presumably barren woman named Anna in the First Book of Kings—“nothing is impossible with God.”[4]   John’s birth and h>is name were foretold by the Archangel Gabriel who appeared to Zachary while he performed the priestly ministry in the Temple at Jerusalem.  There must have been some incredulity in Zachary’s voice, for the Angel interpreted his response as doubting God’s word:  “by what sign shall I know this?  For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”—and Zachary was struck dumb for his unbelief, and remained unable to speak until the time came for the birth and circumcision of the baby John.[5]  John is believed by many to have been purified from original sin while still in the womb of his mother, very likely at the time of the Visitation when “the infant leaped in her womb ... and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost”—indeed, the Angel told Zachary that “ he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.”[6]>

    We might consider John to be the last of the Old Testament prophets, and his father Zachary to be the next to last.  Just after John’s circumcision we learn that “Zachary ... was filled with the Holy Ghost. And he prophesied, saying: ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel....’” giving us the Canticle known as the Benedictus (recited each morning at the hour of Lauds)—and in that Canticle we hear that John was to be “the prophet of the Most High, going before the Lord [Jesus] to prepare His way.”[7]  John did just that, preaching a baptism of repentance, and baptizing Jesus in the Jordan at the start of His public ministry.[8]  Ultimately, John died a martyr, >protesting the adultery of King Herod, who had taken his brother’s wife as his own.[9]

    Today we hear of the Christ who was to come; "whose sandal John was unworthy to loose";  Jesus who was “presumed to be the son of Joseph.”[10]  And it is also worthwhile to dwell on the nature of our Lord; so much misrepresented in the modern world.  At Christmas time—if He is mentioned at all—the world represents Him as a cute and fuzzy baby.  At other times He is represented as a mere intellectual;  someone on par with Aristotle or perhaps Confucius.  Worse yet, the modern world sometimes portrays Him as some sort of revolutionary;  a troublemaker out to overthrow both the Roman Government and the authorities of the Jewish Temple.

    But, none of these descriptions is accurate or even adequate.  Jesus Christ is true God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, who existed with the Father before the creation of time.  While His divinity is often denied by the Modernists, we know Him to be God through a number of means.

    We know Him to be God through prophecy, the words given by His Father to the prophets of the Old Testament:  He is “Emmanuel,—God with us;   He is “God the mighty, Father of the world to come”;   He is “The Lord, our just one”; and many others.[11]

    We know Him to be God through His own Testimony:  Before the High Priest, who illegally sentenced Him to death for His claim;   and before the Jews who gathered to celebrate the Dedication of the Temple and wanted to stone Him to death for saying, “The Father and I are one.”[12]  Equally, we know Him to be God through the silent testimony of His miracles and prophesies.

    We know also that He was with the Father before creation;  that He existed from eternity:  “In the beginning was the Word.... And without Him nothing was made.”   “Before Abraham was, I am.[13]  This is echoed by the Fathers of the Church in the words of the Nicene Creed:  “I believe in ... one Lord Jesus Christ ... born of the Father before all ages ... “Begotten, not made, by whom all things were made.” And later, in the Athanasian Creed:  “The Son is God ... uncreated ... infinite ... eternal....  this is the Catholic Faith, that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in unity.”  Jesus Christ is equal to the Father and the Holy Ghost,  “The Father and I are one....  He who sees Me sees the Father.”

    We know that Jesus is both God and man, having two natures:  “You shall conceive in your womb, and He shall be called the Son of the Most High ... the power of the Most High shall overshadow you, and the Holy to be born of you shall be called the Son of God.”[14]  As the Creed says, He was “born of the Father before all ages ... Born of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.”

    EXORDIUM:  Faith in the Divinity of Christ is the basis of our being able to call ourselves Christians, and the basis of our salvation.  Such belief is not always popular in the modern world, yet we are about to be asked to demonstrate our Faith.  If we are Christians, we will celebrate Christmass—not as the world does, with little or no acknowledgement that we are celebrating the birth of God made man—but, rather,  in the acknowledgement of the Divinity of Christ, and of His Sacred Humanity.

    So, let us be mindful of His promise (or His warning, as the case may be):  “Everyone that shall confess Me before men,  I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.  But he that shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven.”[15]




[1]   Gospel: John i: 19-28.

[2]   Luke i: 36.

[3]   Like i: 5.

[4]   1 Kings i & ii;  Luke i: 37.

[5]   Luke i: 20, 59-64.

[6]   Like i: 41, 15.

[7]   Luke i: 67-79.

[8]   Matthew iii;   Mark i;   Luke iii: 1-22;  John i.

[9]   Matthew xiv;  Mark vi: 14-29.

[10]   Luke iii: 23.

[11]   Isaias vii and ix;   Jeremias xxiii.

[12]   Matthew xxvi: 62-66;   John x: 22-39

[13]   John i; 

[14]   Luke i: 35.

[15]   Matthew x: 32-33.


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