If You Are Willing to Accept It

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Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Matthew 11:11-15
Jesus said to the crowds: “Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force. All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
Opening Prayer: Lord God, open my ears to hear your message of salvation. Mold my heart and will, so that I can accept it. Grant me the strength and resolve to bring your message of salvation to others.
Encountering Christ:

  1. The Kingdom of Heaven: If the great John the Baptist is less than the least in the kingdom of heaven, how great must that kingdom be! We usually think of heaven as happiness, and rightly so. Catechism of the Catholic Church 1024 reminds us, “Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness.” But today’s Gospel points to the greatness of heaven. In this regard, CCC 1026 explains: “He makes partners in his heavenly glorification those who have believed in him and remained faithful to his will.” God’s plan for us is glorious. We must merely be willing to accept it.
  2. God’s Plan for Our Salvation: The New Jerusalem Bible renders verse 13 this way: Because it was towards John that all the prophecies of the prophets and of the Law were leading.” This makes Advent exciting! We see that we are caught up in God’s loving plan of salvation which started with his chosen people, whose prophets and Law pointed to a future time when “Elijah” would come again. John the Baptist was this Elijah pointing to Christ. And Christ is the Messiah who came to bring us to our real home, the kingdom of heaven, where “he makes partners in his heavenly glorification those who have believed in him and remained faithful to his will.” During Advent, the Church calls us precisely to this: belief and fidelity to God’s will!
  3. Whoever Has Ears Ought to Hear: As always, Christ’s teachings exhort us to become our most true selves. Nothing is more natural for ears than to hear. John the Baptist undoubtedly spent many solitary hours praying, reflecting, and simply listening to God in the quiet of the desert. Hearing comes in many forms. When we read the Bible, we hear the word of God. When we pray, we also hear God’s voice. We must also be ready to listen to our neighbor, as God does. Psalm 34:18 says, “The righteous cry out, the Lord hears and he rescues them from all their afflictions.” 

Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, thank you for your patient revelation of the good news of salvation. I embrace it with all my soul. I welcome it into my heart as Mary welcomed Baby Jesus into hers. Help me to do your will out of love this Advent, now and forever. 
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will offer up all my work and prayer, knowing that this is part of your will for my salvation. 
For Further Reflection: For a better understanding of God’s plan of salvation, try following Jeff Cavins through his program, The Bible Timeline, in Ascension Press.
Written by Deacon Erik Burckel, LC.

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