Photo illustration by Phil Younk
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Bring Christ’s light to the world
Based on Bar 5:1-9; Phil 1:4-6, 8-11, Gospel of Lk 3:1-6
Conversion – Commitment – Union – Mission.
The message in the first reading from Baruch is one of joy proclaiming to the Israelites that their rescue from Babylonian captivity will soon be a reality. God is faithful. Baruch also reminds those already rescued that they must not return to their former unfaithfulness and lapses into idolatry.
St. Paul, writing to the Philippians while he was in prison, encourages them to continue to grow in the “good work” Jesus has begun in them. United to Christ, they are to steadily increase their love of God and others to help in the completion of God’s work of salvation.
In Luke’s Gospel, John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin and his forerunner – one who announces the coming of another – boldly calls people to conversion and commitment. People flocked to the Jordan River to listen to John. In a thunderous voice, he preached, “Change your lives and turn away from sin and selfishness; tell God you’re sorry; start to live your lives for God because Jesus has finally come to earth to teach you about God’s love and everlasting life.”
John’s message about Jesus is so important all four Gospels tell it.
To be ready for the Messiah, John called the people to baptism in the Jordan River. In this way, John stands between the Old Testament and the New Testament pointing the way to Jesus. When John baptized the people in the river, it was just a sign of their willingness to convert their hearts and commit themselves to love God and others by their words and actions.
Our baptism is a sacrament through which our sin is taken away by the power of the Holy Spirit and we become members of the Body of Christ, the church. By virtue of our baptism, we are to “prepare the way of the Lord.” We, too, are to call others to Jesus.
The Holy Father’s mission intention for December is “Christ, Light for all Humanity. That Christ may reveal himself to all humanity with the light that shines forth from Bethlehem and is reflected in the face of his Church.”
The Apostleship of Prayer’s reflection on this prayer intention is relevant for us in this Year of Faith: “Pope Benedict likes to say that ‘Jesus is the human face of God.’ Likewise, the church, as the Body of Christ, is the face of Jesus in the world. We make Christ visible today through the Eucharist, celebrated and lived. In union with Christ the Light, our daily lives bring his light to the world.”
That’s our mission.