Homily for Dec. 16, Friday of the III week of Advent
Today’s readings mark a transition in the liturgy. Up until now, the liturgical texts have often included prophecies about the Messiah and their fulfillment in Christ’s public life, with the added nuance of preparing for Christ’s second and definitive coming. One of our guides through these first three weeks of Advent has been John the Baptist, who has exhorted us to prepare the way of the Lord in our hearts.
Today, Jesus reminds us in the Gospel that John the Baptist’s teaching was important, but only a preparation for the Lord Himself. John’s preaching before Christ’s public ministry was the end of the line of prophets sent to Israel. Starting tomorrow, the Gospel readings at Mass will no longer speak of John as a protagonist. Instead, we begin the narrative leading up to the birth of Jesus. Jesus, the Messiah whom the prophets foretold, will complete and supersede their message by opening salvation to all nations, in line with the message of today’s first reading.
Thus, the liturgy is ushering us in to the novena of Christmas, the last nine days of prayer and preparation to receive the baby Jesus into our hearts. Let us try to make very good use of this final stretch of Advent with renewed enthusiasm, so we will be ready to welcome the Lord and rejoice with Him throughout the Christmas season.