Immersed in Christ: December 6, 2020
The Second Sunday of Advent
Praise God for the Good News
“Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.”
John the Baptizer appeared, preaching, “Change you minds, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
The Good News is that Jesus came to change our whole way of thinking—about everything (that is the meaning of metanoia, “repent”). Paul says that before Jesus, “Whatever was written previously was written… so that by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Hope in what?
It is not enough to say, “Hope in salvation.” We can’t praise God intelligently for salvation unless we know what “salvation” includes. What we praise for its full value we will appreciate for its full value. Informed and conscious praise keeps us aware of what Jesus really does for us.
John tells us: “I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
Do you praise God for that? Have you thought about what it means? What we praise we will appreciate. Praise makes us aware.
To “repent” means to change our mind. John urged us to change our minds about our human behavior: to make it truly human, authentic, instead of being enslaved to the sub-human, distorted ways of thinking and acting to which every human culture has programmed people ever since sin entered the world. John preached to bring us up to the level of the Ten Commandments—and something more. John urged us to accept with faith the Savior who was to come. ““I am baptizing you with water… He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
Jesus explained what that means: “No one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above… of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Those baptized “with the Holy Spirit and fire” will see what God alone sees, and love as God alone can love. They will be divine. They will live on this earth like those who already see the face of God in heaven. Jesus said of those who “come to the light” that it will be evident, “clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”
We who have “become Christ” by Baptism (Catechism of the Catholic Church 795) should live like Jesus himself, who said he “can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing” (John 5:19). More than that, he said, “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father (John 14:12).
That’s a shocker. Read it again. Do you believe that? What does it mean?
We can do the “works” Jesus did, because Jesus will do them with us, in us and through us. We can do “greater” works than Jesus did, because now Jesus can do through his humanity (ours, his body on earth), things it was not appropriate, not time to do, before his resurrection and the sending of the Spirit.
“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
The “works” Jesus did showed his oneness with the Father. “If I do the works of my Father, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father… Now they show his oneness with us: “Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you” (John 10:38; 14:13).
That is the Good News: “I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you” (John 14:20). That, St. Paul wrote, is the whole message he was sent to preach: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).
That is what we should praise God for every day. All day. What we praise we will appreciate. Praise makes us aware.
This awareness will transform the world. When we think like Christ and act like Christ, surrendering to let Jesus himself act with us, in us, and through us, then “Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.”
DAILY PRACTICE: Be aware. All day long, keep saying the WIT prayer: “Lord, do this with me, do this in me, do this through me.” Add if you like, “Let me think with your thoughts, and speak with your words, and act as your body on earth.”
ADVENT PRAYER: the WIT prayer.
1 Three times I wrote this with the typo: “a sub-Christian lie.” Is there a message in that?