Wednesday, December 14, 2016

John the Baptist, then.....and now

Some interesting Advent reflections by Brother Andre Marie.

Saint John the Baptist and Our Times

"Saint John the Baptist is our guide, along with Isaias the Prophet, through the season of Advent. He helps us to prepare for the coming of Christ, in His mystically renewed first coming in mercy (the mystery of the Nativity), in His second coming in majesty as the Just Judge, and in that spiritual third coming that Saint Bernard places between the other two.
The great Baptist was honored by Jesus Himself as “more than a prophet” (Matt. 11:9) because his role is to be the “angel” sent to prepare the way of the Messias.
Saint John appears on the scene as the last in a long line of Old Testament prophets. Like Isaias, Jeremias, and others, his speaking truth to power was rewarded with martyrdom. Isaias was sawn in half by order of King Manasses of Juda, while Jeremias was stoned to death by his fellow Jews in Egypt. Such martyrdoms hint at one of the more unpleasant aspects of the Old Testament, namely, the frequent infidelities of the chosen people to their God — even to the point of falling at times into crass sins against the first commandment. In his book of meditations, The Challenge of Faith, Brother Francis touches on the mystery in these few words:

"It is very difficult for us to understand why God should have favored them as much as He did, yet the Faith somehow survived in their midst, through a line of living traditions which was at times extremely thin."
Saint Paul warned both the Romans and the Corinthians not to be complacent or self-congratulatory when learning of such things; we Christians should take them as a cautionary lesson for ourselves not to be presumptuous. And, indeed, do not the fallings away of entire nations to heresy, schism, or apostasy show us that we, too — even in the grace of the New Testament — can witness those living traditions becoming comparatively thin at times?"
"As a prophet who told the truth to the lowly and powerful alike, John was fearless. Utterly unhampered by human respect, he did not flinch to tell the Pharisees and Sadducees alike, “Ye brood of vipers, who hath shewed you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Matt. 3:7). But what really got him in trouble were the frank words to Herod Antipas: “It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife” (Mark 6:18). Herodias, the adulterous wife of Philip (the tetrarch of Iturea and Herod’s brother), did not like this frank talk. As Jezabel did Elias, so Herodias wanted John dead. Enter her daughter, Salome the dancing girl, a little gluttony, a little drunkenness, a lot of lust, and Herod the weak adulterer becomes Herod the reluctant murderer. The prophet’s head ends up on the damsel’s dish.
And what does this have to do with the Church in our day?"

Read the rest here.

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