The Responsorial Psalm invites us to recognize and accept the divine mystery of our redemption: “Lift up
your heads and see; your redemption is near at hand” (Psalm 25: 4-14) The Incarnation, the Word made flesh in Jesus, is the key to everything: “O Emmanuel, God’s presence among us… save us, Lord our God” (O Antiphon).
In Malachi 3: 1-24 God promises he will send a “messenger to prepare the way before me.” But we may feel apprehensive: “Who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire…. he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.”
Jesus calls for more than the most exemplary human behavior and worship. The offering he requires is the offering of our bodies to him as a “living sacrifice” in Baptism, so that “in Christ” we may no longer be “conformed to this world, but… transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we may discern what is the will of God — what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12: 2). This is the sacrifice that incorporates us into the body of Jesus offered on the cross, the sacrifice by which we die and rise in him to live henceforth as Christ himself, as his risen body on earth. We must be able to say with St. Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” This is the mystery of our being as “sons and daughters in the Son.”
Luke 1: 57-66 tells us they were going to name John the Baptizer after his father, Zechariah. But the angel had commanded, “You shall name him John” (Luke 1:13), which means “Yahweh has shown favor.”
Although, unlike Jesus, John had a human father, the order not to give him his father’s name keeps us from stopping there. This is already a preview of the Good News. When we “become Christ” by Baptism we all have God as our Father. We are all “sons of God.” Our name is “Yahweh has shown favor.”
John’s name announces that, like Mary, we are all “highly favored” sons and daughters of God (Luke 1:28): we are all asked to give our bodies to be the body of Jesus-Emmanuel. “Yahweh has shown favor.” Our favor is “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,” the favor of sharing in the life of God. The Church invites us to “Lift up our heads and see” the mystery of our redemption. “In Christ” we are divine.
Initiative: If you want to live life to the full, be Christ! Cultivate awareness that he is always acting with you, in you, through you. Say the WIT prayer all day long.