John the Baptist is the herald of One who will bring good news. John’s announcement sets the stage for the ministry of Jesus as he takes up his mission of preaching forgiveness and calling his disciples to follow in his footsteps. This too is our mission: to seek the forgiveness of the Lord and to be willing to forgive with the same spirit as he did. The exclamation of John appears in our celebration of mass as we prepare for communion: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world.”
It takes our entire lives to accept the truth of our baptism, to realize we are God’s beloved. To live under God’s gaze means letting all of who we are to be loved – not just our best sides! The good news consists in this: not that we are perfect, but that, while we are still sinners, Christ died for us. As sinners loved by God, we are called to be heralds of a new creation constantly renewing the world through the Redeemer’s grace. To the God who created us by love, for love, and to love, let all creation say, Amen.
The magi have been known for many things, but here they may be considered “wise” especially because of the way they understood their lives, and all thy possess, within the larger frame of God’s kingdom. Like Herod, a part of us seeks to cling to what we have, but the magi call us to move beyond our needs and wants in order to be more responsive to God’s presence in our midst. They remind us not to worship creation but the Creator, not the gifts of his world but the One who generously gives them to us. In what ways do I make an idol of the things on this earth?
Today there are more than sixty-five million people in our world like Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, and Jesus who are forcibly displaced from their homelands because of persecution, war, or violence. We can only imagine how the Holy Family felt when good-hearted people unsuspectingly helped them in their need and extended spontaneous gestures of support and kindness. We cannot do everything to relive the pain of those on the move, but we can do something. How can I make a stranger feel welcome today, honor their dignity, or reach out to those near me who are living away from their homeland?