December 15, 2022
Thursday of the Third Week of Advent
Readings for Today
This is the one about whom Scripture says: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, he will prepare your way before you. I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John; yet the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he.” Luke 7:27–28
Saint John the Baptist was truly great. He was the promised prophet foretold by Isaiah who would be the “messenger” who would precede the Christ, the Messiah. Many believe that John was sanctified within the womb when he leapt for joy when encountering the presence of Christ during the Visitation. John then faithfully fulfilled his mission of being the last of the Old Testament prophets and died prior to Jesus giving His life for the salvation of all. For these reasons, John is considered the greatest of those born of women, prior to the glorious gift of salvation in Christ.
Of course, after praising John for his greatness, Jesus then goes on to point out that even “the least in the Kingdom of God” is greater than John. This is simply because everyone who is now a member of the Kingdom of God was given a gift that John never enjoyed in this life. We are given the gift of grace so as to actually share in the divine nature. Through baptism, we become sharers in God’s very life by grace. This transformation of our very being is something that John the Baptist did not share in until after his death when Jesus opened the gateway to salvation.
Imagine being John the Baptist. Imagine being given this incredible responsibility and unbelievable privilege of not only being a blood cousin of Jesus but also being called to preach to the people so as to prepare them for Jesus’ ministry and the gift of salvation. What a privilege that would be!
But according to the words of Jesus, we are all given something even greater. We are given the privilege of not only a blood relationship with Jesus but a transformation of our very soul, sharing in His divine nature. We are privileged to become totally new creations by grace. And we are also privileged to then be called to go forth and to prepare the way for Christ in the lives of others.
Sometimes, we can take the gift of salvation for granted. We can easily fail to comprehend this incredible gift. As a result, we can fail to have gratitude and fail to be in awe of what we have become in Christ.
One of the central messages of Advent is that God became man so that we could share in His divinity. This reality is beautifully presented in the prayer that the priest prays at Mass as he mixes the water and wine: By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ Who humbled himself to share in our humanity. What a gift! We are called to actually share in Christ’s divinity! This gift makes us members of the Kingdom of God and is a far greater gift than even John the Baptist received in his earthly life.
Reflect, today, upon the amazing gift that you have been given through the life, death and resurrection of Christ. If you are one who has fallen into the trap of a lack of gratitude for this gift, use this Advent season to rekindle your awareness of and gratitude for all that God has done for you.
My divine Savior, I thank You for the awe-inspiring gift of grace You have given me, inviting me to actually share in Your divinity. May I become more and more aware of this gift and become eternally grateful for all You have done for me. Jesus, I trust in You.
Saint Andrew Christmas Novena
The Saint Andrew’s Christmas Novena prayer below is traditionally prayed 15 times a day from November 30, the Feast of Saint Andrew, through Christmas Eve.