“A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!”
In the Gospel for this Sunday, the beginning of the Gospel of Mark, we are again introduced to the great Saint of God, St. John the Baptist. He is that voice crying out in the wilderness, a voice that we are called to imitate, especially during this holy season. How do we do that?
The message that we are given to proclaim is described by the first reading. It is a message of comfort, of consolation, a message that proclaims to the captives that their time of service is ended. We do not necessarily experience ourselves as being captives, nor do many of those around us. But are we really free? Are we capable of effectively resisting the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil? That is a question for each of us to ponder during this season of preparation.
As we ponder it for ourselves, we recognize that, as the first reading and the message of St. John the Baptist demonstrate, we are called to proclaim to others the gift of freedom that can be theirs if they unite their hearts more deeply to the Lord Jesus. Some of us may retort, “I’m not yet fully free, how can I tell others about this freedom?” The simple response to that is that we don’t have to be finished products, sea-splitting, water-walking, sin-free mystics before we can spread the Gospel. We just have to be willing to admit that we, too, are still works in progress and as we draw closer to the Lord Jesus, we, too, will grow in our own freedom.
The temptation to not tell others about Jesus because of the flaws in our own lives is just that, a temptation. We simply need the humility to admit our own flaws and weaknesses but to always remember that it is not us we are preaching, it is the Lord Jesus. So, while we are conscious of our own failings, we are confident in Who He is and what He can do for us and for others.
Being good stewards
On the great Solemnity of Christ the King, all of us in the Diocese of Lansing were invited by our bishop to look at our own process of discipleship and were offered a few simple components of a discipleship plan for our lives. As we mentioned last weekend, part of that discipleship involves us being good stewards of our time, our talents, and our treasure so that the Lord Jesus can use us to build His Kingdom.
I am very grateful for so many of our folks here at Christ the King who are responding to a particular dimension of that stewardship by helping us reach our goal in the Witness to Hope campaign so that both the needs of the Diocese and our particular needs as a parish can be more effectively met. It is the Bishop’s clear desire that all of the folks in our Diocese participate in this effort, to the extent that they are able, that we may truly be a Witness to Hope.
Another aspect of the discipleship plan that was handed out, “Grow and Go,” is the dimension of being specific about reaching out to others with the gift of the Good News that we have been given. I am very grateful to so many people who did that as we launched our major Alpha campaign. Many folks were deeply touched by it, both the guests and those who served them.
Now during Advent, which is a season particularly well-disposed to evangelization, we have an opportunity to do this again, both by inviting folks to attend the upcoming series of Alphas as well as by serving on them ourselves. The members of Christ the King have been so amazingly gifted with so much by our generous Lord. In light of those gifts, though, we are constantly reminded of the Biblical injunction that much will be expected from those who have been given much. Now would be an excellent time to prayerfully consider both who we might invite to these new Alphas as well as how the Lord Jesus might be calling us to serve on them. In this season we are reminded that “the Light shines in the darkness,” so let us let others know! —Fr. Ed