Dec. 17: Third Sunday of Advent
He was not the light, but came to testify to the light (Jn 1:8).
Although it has been nearly five centuries since Nicholas Copernicus proposed the heliocentric model of the universe, geocentrism—or more accurately, anthropocentrism—still seems to dominate our culture, at least metaphorically.
Between curating Facebook profiles, creating Snapchat stories and tending to Instagram feeds, we seem to think of ourselves and our lives as worthy of endless attention. Even for those who have some immunity to the contagion of social media, there is the temptation to want to be the main event in whatever good work we do. But in order to be persuasive witnesses to the Christian message—that is, to testify to the light—we need to be very clear about our role.
John the Baptist, the formidable and astringent prophet whose testimony is the subject of today’s Gospel, knew that his job was to prepare the world for someone greater than he. That is our job, too. I am reminded of this whenever I step into our beautiful and historic parish church and look up at the altar. Flanking the main altar painting of the Crucifixion, beautifully robed and standing on little grey clouds, are depictions of two Fra Angelico-style angels, facing Jesus with their trumpets lifted.
They are a salutary reminder that our job as Christians is to celebrate and worship God, not ourselves. Only when we orient ourselves around Christ the Son will we be properly situated to reflect his radiant light out to a dark world that desperately needs it.
Prayer: Lord of the sun, the stars and the moon, Draw me into your magnificent orbit so that I may cast your reflected radiance to all who walk in darkness. Amen.
For today’s readings, click here.