December 15, 2022
by Michael Kavan
Creighton University's Medical School
click here for photo and information about the writer

Thursday of the Third Week of Advent
Lectionary: 190

Isaiah 54:1-10
30:2 and 4, 5-6, 11-12a and 13b

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In today’s Gospel reading, Luke writes about Jesus as he addresses the crowds about John the Baptist. He asks them what they came out to the desert to see – not a reed swayed by the wind, nor someone dressed in fine garments – no, they came to see John himself. Jesus notes that John is the one the scriptures have been referring to as God’s messenger who will “prepare the way before you.” John is the greatest prophet because he not only prepared the way, but witnessed his arrival. Jesus then surprises us by noting that as great as John is “yet the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he.”

So, what is Jesus saying? Well, first we see the love Jesus had for John. Despite John’s imprisonment, Jesus spoke highly of him and stood by his friend through thick and thin. A reminder that whatever we experience in life Jesus will be a trusted ally, advocate, and friend who will never abandon us - and what a comforting feeling that should bring to all of us. Second, as great as John is, Jesus provides perspective on what we can do to be “greater than he” - and not necessarily greater than John as a person and prophet, but greater in that, unlike John, we are witnesses to Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection. Therefore, anyone in the Kingdom of God has the opportunity and the privilege to see Jesus through his resurrection and to understand fully the scriptures and the teachings of Jesus as the Messiah. Our enhanced insight positions us best to understand God and to follow His word as Jesus taught us. That is - if we decide to, which brings us to the final message within Luke’s reading.

Just like the tax collectors, Pharisees, and scholars of law, we have a choice. We can be like the tax collectors and repent and acknowledge the righteousness of God or reject Him as did the Pharisees and the scholars of law. Again – our choice. My hope this Advent season is that we choose to open our hearts to the teachings of Jesus and follow his way into the Kingdom of God. May we treat others with kindness and generosity this holiday season – keeping in mind what Pope Francis noted about John, “He began with the least.” And we should, too.

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