For most, probably 99.999%+, Christians around the world, the religious seasons revolving around Christmas are a yuletide affair with unavoidable secular trappings. Proximity to the two versions of The Gospel are ever present with the Nativity tales from Matthew and Luke, the final vestiges of the Sacred and Holy, at least in the West.
The best known of the Christmas seasons of course is Advent, the preparation time that encompasses most of December. Advent is about preparation, forgiveness, and repentance. These themes are not really found in stories of censuses, inns, shepherds, stable animals, jubilant angels, or even astrologers reading the signs of the sky, but in the bridge between the Old Testament and New Testament, John The Baptist.
Embracing the true Advent requires preparation for the coming of Christ into the world. Perhaps, this objective would be better served erecting statues of the prophet preaching in the desert, over the ever-growing luminescence of “holiday” lights and blown up snowman on grass lawns. While I may not be ready either to construct a ten-foot John The Baptist statue in my front yard, such a bold display would strike powerful meaning in opposition to worldly light design, aligning with the genuine reason for Christmas.
In a Christian world free of pagan trappings, the focus of Advent would be almost exclusive to the works of John The Baptist.
Penance and forgiveness are particularly strong messages from John.
John was in the desert baptizing, and preaching the baptism of penance, unto remission of sins.
And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all they of Jerusalem, and were baptized by him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.mark 1:4-5
And saying: “Do penance: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.matthew 3:2
And penance leads one upon the straight way to being prepared, as foretold in the Old Testament.
For this is he that was spoken of by Isaias the prophet, saying: “A voice of one crying in the desert. Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.matthew 3:3
In our modern materialistic Western culture, which has so diluted the essence of Christian preparation for the coming of Jesus, we should take notice of how John reacted to and challenged those in authority who came to him, not to be baptized, but to question him and his motives, as a direct threat to their own worldly power.
And seeing many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them: Ye brood of vipers, who have shewed you to flee from the wrath to come?
Bring forth therefore fruit worth of penance.
And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham for our father. For I tell you that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham.
For now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that doth not yield good fruit, shall be cut down, and cast into the fire.matthew 3:7-10
And ultimately John reveals his purpose in serving God, to be the herald before the coming of Christ, not being the Christ himself.
And as the people of of opinion, and all were thinking in their hearts of John, that perhaps he might be the Christ;
John answered, saying unto all: I indeed baptize you with water, but there shall come one mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worth to loose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.luke 3:15-16
And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites to him, to ask him: Who art thou?
And he confessed, and did not deny: and he confessed: I am not the Christ.
And they asked him: What then? Art thou Elias? And he said: I am not. Art thou the prophet? And he answered: No.
They said therefore unto him: Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? What sayest thou of thyself?
He said: I am the voice of the one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaias.john 1:19-23
The connection to the New Testament was satisfied when Jesus came to John to be Himself baptized.
And it came to pass, in those days, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
And forthwith coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit as a dove descending, and remaining on him.
And there came a voice from heaven: Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.
And immediately the Spirit drove him out into the desert.john 1:9-12
As Advent winds down these final days, remember the reason for this season, the mission and man of John The Baptist, and his importance being the true herald to the world that Christ has come!
Thank you for reading my article. Merry Christmas!
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