Today’s reflection is for the Third Sunday of Advent, December 15, 2019, and the readings can be found by clicking here.
On this Third Sunday of Advent, in the midst of our journey toward the creche on Christmas morning, we pause to rejoice. Rejoice (Gaudete in Latin) Sunday, is truly what every Sunday should be–a day to retreat back from the front lines of life, get right with friends and family, be at peace with God and His Church, and rediscover the life and joy that was won for us in Christ Jesus.
This, my friends, is just what I need right now! Too many Christians have become caught up with, and influenced by worldly treasures and pleasures, and the result is stress, sadness, anger, impatience, worry, and fear. The Gospel today seeks to liberate us from all of that! It seeks to remind us of who we are and we’re called to be, and to put the gospel “mirror” in front of our face and ask, “Is this you?”
I like the expression, “If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, then it must be a duck.” For me the saying speaks to the truth of the degree to which who we claim to be alignes what other people actually see us to be. I don’t know if Jesus knew the saying, but in effect, he told John the Baptist’s disciples that very thing today. Last week John the Baptist charged his audience to, “produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.” (JN 3:8) John knew that talk is cheap and that the real test of conversion is a changed outlook, a changed attitude, and a changed life.
As John languished in jail, he sent his own disciples to do a little reconnaissance and information gathering about Jesus. John wants to know what all of Israel wanted to know, and what we too want to know, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” What a great question, and a very honest one. John is now in jail, he has lived his life in simplicity seeking nothing else but to honor God and proclaim his kingdom. His time is short and he knows it. He just wants to know if Jesus is the real deal or not.
Jesus does not give John’s disciples a yes or a no–talk is cheap. A lot of people out there today claim the title, but few walk the walk. “Jesus said to them in reply,
‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.’” Boom! Drop the mic! John tells the Pharisees, “Show me the fruit!” but Jesus delivers it! And so should we.
For John last week, and Jesus this week, if we are who we claim to be, the whole world will notice. I distinctly remember my own conversion in college. I didn’t hang out with the same people anymore, our values were now incongruent. I purged my music playlist, threw a way a whole bunch of movies, dumped the booze, and dedicated myself to living right in God’s sight. Like Joseph, I strove to be a righteous man, and I strive still today.
I do stumble from time to time, and I am grateful for God’s grace and forgiveness, but on the whole I hope that those who know me or who encounter me in the world might see in front of them, a Christian duck. The Christian duck is a duck that lives a life filled with joy, love, and peace. We cannot call ourselves Christians if we are without joy, if we fail to love, are unkind, and bring division and disease. We have been baptized into Christ Jesus, have taken on his life and his priorities. We follow in his footsteps, undergo conversion, announce the kingdom, and make his mission and ministry our mission and ministry.
The evidence that Jesus was the Messiah that John had been looking for were that the blind would see, the lame would walk, lepers would be cleansed, the deaf would hear, the dead would rise, the poor would hear good news, and people would take no offense and the name of Jesus. In our lives, by authentically living the Christian life, we too can open people’s eyes to hope and life in Jesus. People who walk without passion or purpose, by our life and example, might change their gate and walk properly. There would be conversion and forgiveness as people are cleansed of their sins, and those whose ears were closed to hope and good news would have their ears finally hear the trumpets of heaven and angels singing. All of us are called to preach the good news so that others might rise to new life at the name of Jesus.
This is indeed the call of the Christian life. This is the fruit; it is the evidence, that we are walking with Jesus, walking like Jesus and talking like Jesus. After all, if it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, it must be a duck. Are you a Christian Duck? Would others think so too? Rejoice! Rejoice! Again I say rejoice!