The voice of Jesus is an invitation to the kingdom of God. And the voice of the disciples should be but an echo of their Teacher’s voice.
The Forerunner considers himself as a voice shouting out the same message that the one he precedes will also preach:
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!
John and Jesus, then, invite us to repentance. We have to change ways because the heavenly kingdom is unlike all worldly kingdoms.
Worldly monarchs lord it over their subjects. But not so in the kingdom that Jesus is about to usher in. He himself comes not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for all. Hence, the kingdom, the power and the glory belong to those who serve and are last.
And what St. Vincent de Paul says regarding this certainly matches what Jesus says. The saint urges Father Durand not to be fond of playing the superior or the master (SV.EN XI:313). Additionally, he makes it clear to him that a superior with such fondness goes against Jesus’ teaching.
The voice of Jesus finds its echo in advance on the lips of the Baptist.
John, without mincing words, calls those who have come from among the religious leaders “brood of vipers.” He rebukes their empty claims.
And the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire will do the same later. Jesus will accuse the scribes and the Pharisees of neglecting justice, mercy and faithfulness. He will lay before them the charge of blindness and hypocrisy.
In contrast to those leaders, John practices what he preaches. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. He, however, wears clothing made of camel’s hair and has a leather belt around his waist. Sure, his clothing indicates he is the awaited Elijah who will prepare the people for the coming of the messianic king. But John’s lifestyle also points to the one coming after him. Jesus will later say of himself:
Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have their nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.
To live thus is essential to having a voice that suits Christians who denounce all greed and indifference. Our proclamation, as Christians, of justice and mercy will also become credible, of course. Living like Jesus and John, we will have the capacity to be the voice of the afflicted. We will welcome one another. And we will only hear among us the voice of inclusion, blessing and peace.
And this will mean that it is now our life, more than our voice, that sings at the Eucharist, a pledge of God’s glorious reign.
Make us listen to your voice, Lord Jesus, so that we may enter your kingdom.
4 December 2016
2nd Sunday Advent (A)
Is 11, 1-10; Rom 15, 4-9; Mt 3, 1-12