Greater than John the Baptist

Homily for Thursday of the Second Week of Advent

There is a line in today’s Gospel that has really just had me thinking and reflecting. Jesus says this: “Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Mt. 11:11). What does that tell us about the Kingdom of Heaven and those who dwell there?

If the least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than John the Baptist – the forerunner, the precursor to Christ, the prophet who was sent to tell the world that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand – than those who dwell in Heaven must be pretty special, right? And that might bring us to a sense of anxiety because we might be thinking, “Well, what does that mean for me? Does that mean that I have no chance of getting into heaven?” We might find ourselves thinking about how we have lived our lives up to this point and questioning whether there is any hope for us to dwell in Eternity with God.

If that’s where you’re at, renounce it…because it isn’t the truth. The Evil One is trying to tempt you into despairing. Don’t buy the lie. Instead, what this line should tell us is, yes, those who dwell in Heaven are special. BUT, we are already participating in the Kingdom of God. This should tell us how special we are to Him.

The other evening for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, I talked about how God has chosen each of us as His sons and daughters, chosen us to fulfill a certain purpose, a certain role in building up the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth. Through our baptism, we have already been promised the inheritance of Heaven. So, we are already members of the Kingdom. And so we are called to live out of that reality.

There is a beautiful article in the Catechism that speaks to the greatness of Heaven and our participation in it as Christians. It says: “He makes partners in his heavenly glorification those who have believed in Him and remained faithful to His will” (CCC 1026). In other words, we are already God’s partners in bringing about His plan for salvation. God’s plan for us is glorious. We just have to be willing to accept it. We just have to be willing to participate in it fully.

So if this is challenging us to look at how we have lived our lives, it isn’t meant to be something that should bring us anxiety; instead, it is meant to wake us up to the fact that we could be doing a much better job at participating in the work of the Kingdom now. Advent is a season of hope, not of despair. Will we allow God to work within us this season so that we can be brought to a moment of deeper conversion, and cooperate more fully with God’s saving mission? That should be our prayer today, that the Lord fill our hearts with courage to respond to His word with a firm resolve to grow deeper with Him.

Published by Fr. Tom Pringle

Priest of the Diocese of Orlando. Parochial Vicar at Holy Family Catholic Church, Orlando.

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