[COLUMN] On finding Christ and proclaiming Him anew to all people 

“Who are you?” “What are you?” “Are you the Prophet?” “Who are you so we can give an answer to those who sent us?”

These are the inquiries posed by priests and Levites to John the Baptist in this Sunday’s Gospel for the Third Sunday of Advent. They are attempting to ascertain if John is the long-awaited messianic figure, the anointed one who will serve and protect Israel as king, restore the tribes of Israel, purify the priesthood, mitigate the wrath of God, and settle their legal disputes. In case he is not the Messiah, they wonder if he is Elijah, the prophet they expect to return after being taken to heaven in a fiery chariot, or perhaps another prophet.

John the Baptist unequivocally responds that he is neither the messianic figure nor Elijah. He identifies himself as the one sent by God to bear witness to the true light, so that all may believe through him. John’s role is to guide people to the Lamb of God, the Son of God, who will take away the sins of the world. He will baptize them, not with water, but with the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, John the Baptist’s purpose is to present to them the Person of Christ, who alone can save them from their sins and grant them eternal life. Jesus Christ will bring good news to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, and release the prisoners. Through his life, death, and resurrection, he will restore God’s covenant with his people and bestow upon them new life in the Holy Spirit.

John the Baptist’s mission has become our mission in the present time. Many individuals are feeling lost and seeking answers to life’s challenges and confusions. They yearn for true joy, yet they may not be seeking it within the Church. We are currently living in an age where faith in God has been abandoned or kept at a distance. It is our responsibility to reach out to these individuals and present to them anew the wisdom of the Gospel. We must offer them an opportunity to encounter Jesus through the Word and the Eucharist, and to develop an intimate relationship with Him. Our role is to present fresh insights and new approaches to understanding the person of Jesus Christ—the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

If Advent is a time of joy for us as Christians, then it is crucial that we demonstrate and share with the world the joy of having found Christ. We must showcase the joy that comes from believing in Him, encountering Him in prayer and the Sacraments, and serving Him by aiding those who are impoverished, sick, lonely, or alienated from society.

Our joy during this Advent season should shine so brightly that people cannot help but notice and believe that we have discovered the ultimate treasure—the greatest gift of all! Some individuals may reject us or disregard our beliefs, but that should not deter us from proclaiming, just like John the  Baptist, the true Light of the World to the entire world!

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.


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