John the Baptist & Our Lady of Guadalupe: 3rd Sunday of Advent
by Father Brian J. Soliven on Sunday December 15, 2019
1500 hundred years separated St. John of the Baptist and Our Lady of Guadalupe. Yet, they both had similar missions: preparing the way for Jesus Christ.
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In Catholic churches throughout the world, a similar sight will unfold before your eyes. The “rose” candle in the Advent wreath will be ablaze. The celebrating priest will don the traditional “rose” vestment, which he wears only twice a year. A tired joke about the strength of his masculinity will be uttered against the seemingly pinkness of his sacred robes as the congregation chuckles at father’s self-deprecating humor. This has become an Advent tradition in and of itself across Catholic cultures and continents. As predictable as this might be, it points to how visually striking this sudden blast of color in the liturgy has become. By design, the color is meant to stop us in our tracks, pause, and think, “Why so rose?” The reason is utterly simple – Jesus is coming soon. Yes on December 25th, we commemorate the invasion of God into our world that transpired 2,000 years ago but also now we await his return, the second final coming. Advent has many layers of meaning and symbols, all trying to convey a sense that our world is coming to end. No matter how hard we fight this or try to ignore it, these events of our salvation have been put into motion thousands of years before we even existed. They will happen, regardless.
Knowing this, St. John the Baptist asks Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” In other words, are you the one whom the prophets foretold? Are you the long-awaited fulfillment of God’s promise to us? Remember, by the time Jesus comes onto the scene, the Jews have been waiting centuries for the messiah to arrive. That is why whenever we see people encounter Jesus in the Scripture, he elicited strong reactions to his teachings. The people either wanted to kill or enthrone him. He tells us himself, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” (See Matthew 12:30). There is no indifference to Jesus Christ; an indecision is a decision.
Whether we are religious or not, a Catholic on fire with the love of Christ or lukewarm, we are all waiting for something better, are we not? We all wait for something. We wait for better weather, we wait to see our loved ones, we wait for the Super Bowl game, we wait for the next presidential election, we wait for our kids to be finished with school etc. Whatever the reason, much of our existence is waiting. Our faith tells us that even the entire universe waits in bated breath, “For anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.” (See Romans 8:19). Nothing in this world can satisfy this longing. Hear me again, no matter how much money, power, honor, or pleasure we amass in this life, our hearts remains restless. We wait for something more. Christmas is the answer you’ve been searching for. The “pinkness” of my vestments this Sunday is to remind us that something special is about take place.