In the Judean desert, John the Baptist called everyone to conversion and announced the coming of the Messiah (cf. Mt 3:1–3). The Judean desert is south of Jerusalem, far from the centers of power for religion and politics. John the Baptist didn’t belong to the priestly class that dominated the people from the temple, neither was he a preacher who was worried about displeasing the dreaded Herod Antipas, much less a cowardly ally of the bloodthirsty Roman procurator Pontius Pilate.
The most striking thing about John was his freedom. He wasn’t tied to anything, and neither was he accountable to anyone but God. That’s why his word had such an impact on the hearts of the people. John was a rebel when confronting Jerusalem’s comfortable religion; he was a critic of Judea’s inequitable and unjust society.
Today we need the rebelliousness of John the Baptist:
- We need a rebellious heart not to be satisfied with our mediocre life and an existence filled with idols that replace God.
- We need interior rebellion so that we don’t resign ourselves to accepting a world in which everyone seeks his or her own well-being, where things are worth more than people.
- We need intellectual rebellion to dare to think freely and critically with regard to the dominant system.
- We need social rebelliousness so that we don’t have to accept as the norm those repressive, terrorizing regimes that want to force us to be indifferent and silent.
- And, we need prophetic rebelliousness to raise our voices in God’s name—denouncing the crimes of oppressors, encouraging those who have fallen, enlightening those who are confused, caring for the poor, and defending those who are victims.
Sometimes one voice may seem to be too little, especially if it resounds alone, without the support of other voices. However, one single voice that dares to speak in the name of God, giving hope to those who have fallen and courageously speaking the truth, has amazing power, even if it is only a voice in the wilderness.
Today, voices that call us not to be satisfied with mediocrity, that invite us to straighten out our personal lives and our social interactions according to God’s will, fearlessly crying out the truth in God’s name and inviting us to have hope without losing heart—these voices are so necessary!
John’s voice still resounds with vigor today because he was animated by great hope. He said: one who is more powerful than I is coming after me (Mt 3:11).
The one who came after John was Jesus, “one who is more powerful”:
- Jesus is more powerful than John because he doesn’t need the water of the Jordan River to give us life, it’s enough for him to immerse us in the life-giving water of his Spirit.
- Jesus is more powerful because he left the austere life of the desert and dedicated himself to doing acts of kindness and goodness that John the Baptist had never done.
- Jesus is more powerful because he didn’t condemn us, but loved us to the end.
- Jesus is more powerful because he gave birth to hopes so great that not even death on the cross could wither them.
- And, Jesus is more powerful because he embodies the tenderness of God.
Jesus is the most powerful because, in spite of everything, he always goes out to meet us, he knows us and calls us from within our hearts. Jesus is the most powerful because he never grows tired of us, he loves us as we are, and is always ready to lift us up, heal us, and save us.
To trust in the love of the one who is most powerful, abandoning our lives to him, is to begin to live. Let’s say to him from the bottom of our hearts during this season of Advent: Come, Lord Jesus!
Silvio José Báez, o.c.d.
Auxiliary Bishop of Managua
Homily, Second Sunday of Advent (excerpts)
4 December 2022
Translation from the Spanish text is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission.