Gospel text (Mt 11,11-15):
Jesus said to the crowds, «No one greater than John the Baptist has come forward among the sons of women, and yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven is something to be conquered and the unyielding seize it. Up to the time of John, there was only prophesy: all the prophets and the Law; and if you believe me, John is this Elijah, whose coming was predicted. Let anyone with ears listen!».
Jesus is speaking to the people, and today He is speaking to us. Though John didn’t wish to be famous, Jesus makes him famous, by simply revealing to us, the importance of his presence in this world. The Holy Mother Church invites us all to meditate on this special person, who has chosen by God to help us to identify the Savior of the World.
The way he lived his life, proclaimed the baptism of conversion, the courage he had to face the authorities, his humility before Jesus, all made him an important personality, rightly pointed out by Jesus as the greatest. To establish and be a witness of justice, he will provoke everyone, thus invite violence on him. Thus he becomes the model of church’s persecution of the day. Nothing strange and new here.
Jesus wishes that we be John Baptist in this world and be witness of justice and divine mercy. Shall we learn to imitate John and help people to come closer to God?
Action of the day: Be humble
«The kingdom of heaven is something to be conquered and the unyielding seize it»
Fr. Ignasi FABREGAT i Torrents
(Terrassa, Barcelona, Spain)
Today, the Gospel speaks of John the Baptist, the Messiah's Precursor, he who has come to prepare the paths of the Lord. He will stay with us until the sixteenth day, when the first part of Advent comes to an end.
John is a resolute man, who is very aware of the value of things, who is conscious of the fact that struggle is necessary to improve and be holy. That's why Jesus says: «From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven is something to be conquered and the unyielding seize it» (Mt 11:12). The “unyielding” ones are those who are unyielding to themselves: Do I struggle to believe that the Lord loves me too? Do I sacrifice myself to “make myself small”? Do I make the effort to be conscious of the fact that I am my Father's son and live accordingly?
Saint Teresa de Lisieux refers to these words from Jesus saying something which can help us in our personal and intimate conversation with the Son of Man: «It is you, oh poverty!, my first sacrifice; I'll be together with you until I die! I know that the athlete, once at the stadium, rids himself of everything in order to run. You, worldly people, can savor the pity and anguish that come from the vanity of your bitter fruits; I, joyous, will get the prize of triumph from poverty». And me, why do I complain as soon as I sense that I lack something I consider necessary? I wish I could see things as clearly as Teresa in all aspects of my life!
In a very mysterious way, Jesus says to us today: «John is this Elijah, whose coming was predicted. Let anyone with ears listen!» (Mt 11:14-15). What does he mean? He wants to make it clear to us that John was his true forerunner, who carried out the same mission as Elijah, according to the belief, which people at that time had, that the prophet Elijah was supposed to come back before the Messiah.