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John the Baptist or Santa Claus

Leading up to Christmas we find ourselves in a bit of a quandary: are we called to identify with John the Baptist in his coat of sacking or are we called to identify with Santa Claus in his red coat and reindeer. I'm afraid such a personification of Advent seems to have been won, so far, hands down, by Santa Claus! John’s version of Christmas preparation stands in stark contrast to what is happening today.

How should we ourselves be preparing for the big day? Have we anything to learn from John the Baptist about where our emphasis should lie? Maybe we should get to know him and his message a bit better. Who was he and what was his message out there in the desert? He seems to have been a bit of a weirdo in his get-up. Something was different about him. But he'd fit in well nowadays in that respect! He certainly lived a simple life. The way he dressed and what he ate gives evidence of a simplicity that's lost in our own culture.

If Christmas is about God assuming human form, then this bug-eating, wash-them-down-with-honey ancestor, prepared the way for Christ by proclamation of repentance and confession of sins and to be open to the weak and vulnerable among us. The story of his ministry can enrich our own preparation for Christmas during the season of Advent.

How does a mother react when she hears the great news that her son in Australia is coming home for a wee break? She rushes out to tell all the neighbours and friends the good news, she starts to get the house cleaned and painted, she arranges that family members get together to welcome him, she prepares all the dishes he likes, etc. This is how John the Baptist wants us to react during Advent.

But, like John, we have to do a bit of cleaning ourselves. Get rid of all those old sins that have accumulated during the year: the pride, the coveting other’s possessions, those lustful thoughts, that unhealthy anger, gluttony, and sloth. Do I recognize any of those in myself?



very interesting homily!
thank you

but as a woman who was once 8 and a half months pregnant in december
i rather think of the 2 women pregnant Elizabeth and Mary
when you are pregnant you have to prepare
especially in the last months you have to be careful what you eat - suddenly old favorites no longer agree
you are big and clumsy - i wasn't that big - but you still have to be careful
and of course, all the things you need for the baby
my son came early and my friends had to go buy necessities

as a woman you are focused on the future - how are you going to make a life for yourself and the child

and that brings us to that second meaning of advent texts
the coming now in grace
how to make a life with this coming - what do you need to do now?
for me all the preparation - the cards - the baking - the decorating
are ways to reach out to others showing love
because christianity for me wasn't /isn't about "me & god"
it's about me living and showing god's love in my life with others

the old hymn
"they will know we are christians by our love"
and this season is all about love
one just has to look with eyes open for love
and love is available for everyone
no one has an exclusive right to love
or understanding of how to express it

God rest you merry, gentlemen
let nothing (be by which) you dismay

Edited at 2018-12-06 20:17 (UTC)
I have just come in from a fantastic rendering of Handel's Messiah in our local opera-house. Magnificent!
i'm so glad you had the experience!

when i lived "near civilization" lol
i used to go to a performance every year
i also had the complete oratorio on records that i would play during advent

do you know the medieval "Play of Daniel"?
when i lived in New York i went to a performance every year (sometimes more than once - i knew someone who was in the cast)
i had a record of it which i also played

but live performance is always best!