Having spent over fifteen years of my priesthood in a parish that bears the name Saint John the Baptist, I have come to appreciate the unique role that he plays in our lives. One of those is an example by comparison. In the Gospel of Matthew today we hear Jesus tell the people that "among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist ..." But the continued line is the kicker - "...yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater then he." Think about that a moment. No one greater than John born on this earth ... except you and me and all called to belong to the kingdom of heaven by being born again in Christ!
We have the assurance of Jesus that this is true, that we are greater and of more importance in the kingdom of Heaven than John the Baptist or any who had come before the Christ. And yet we are keenly aware that we are imperfect, that we are unworthy, that we are nothing without God. Who we are in the sight of God at times does not compare with who we are in the eyes of men, or even in our own vision of self. We are called today to REJOICE in the who that we are in Christ despite the present appearance. And we are reminded that the best way to become who we are meant to be - great in the kingdom of God, reflecting the glory of Christ, joining with the hosts of heaven in singing the praise of the Father by words and deeds - is to help others ... "strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, say to those whose hearts are frightened: be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you."
As we continue our journey through Advent and towards a deeper immersion into Christ Jesus, today we pause and truly rejoice in his gracious love.