The One Who is to Come
St John the Baptist features again in this week’s Gospel. So great was his humility that he said, “The One Who is coming after me; I am not fit to undo His sandal-strap.” And yet Our Lord Himself said of John, “no greater man has been born of a woman” (Luke 7:28). So Our Lord is indicating that even though John is the greatest man born, Christ far excels him in every respect.
John knew and understood fully Who Our Lord is. He knew He was not just the Messiah, He was not just a man sent by God, but He was also God Himself. JESUS is fully man and fully God. He is not a human person but a Divine Person with a human nature. In other words, when we see Christ we see God. JESUS said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). When God the Son Who is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity became man, He did not cease being God. This is why in the Creed we say He is “consubstantial with the Father.” That is, He is of the same substance as the Father.
As we heard in last week’s readings, the Good News from the prophet Isaiah was that one day God Himself was going to come and visit us. At the time of John the Baptist, things were bad. The Romans were in charge, Herod was committing terrible crimes, and so Israel was longing for God to come and save His people.
This Sunday is known as ‘Gaudete’ Sunday. Gaudete is Latin for rejoice, and so the penitential purple is replaced by the more joyful rose-coloured vestments. We are rejoicing midway through Advent because Christ is coming and our salvation is near. The words of today’s Entrance Antiphon from St Paul from which this Sunday takes its name are, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near” (Philippians 4:4-5). He is coming to save us, but not from Herod, the Romans or Coronavirus, although we hope and pray He will save us from that too. More importantly He has come to save us from sin and eternal death. This is truly something to be rejoicing about. And He can only save us because He is God.
Fr Paul Gillham, IC