A reading from the gospel according to Matthew 11:11-15
Jesus said to the crowds:
11 “Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force.
13 All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
Pointers for Reflection:
1. John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way of the Lord. For living up to His mission, Jesus praised Him by saying that no one born of women is greater than he. Yet he did not live long enough to witness the death and resurrection of Jesus and the establishment of the Kingdom. This is reason why Jesus mentioned that the least in the Kingdom is greater than he.
3. By living a radical way of life, John the Baptist was able to attract a large following and many of his followers also became the disciples of Jesus. These people were hungry of the word of God so much so that they followed John and later Jesus wherever the two went. They were enthusiastic followers like a throng of soldiers ready to attack. In fact, most of them looked up to Jesus as the coming King who will overthrow the then ruling foreigners of Israel. This could be the violence that Jesus is referring to in the reading above. Yet, the violence can also pertains to the opposition of a lot more people.
4. Jesus speaks of prophets, those who are sent to proclaim the message of God. Though they are the bearers of the good news, many people do not listen to them. Instead they are persecuted and even killed. John the Baptist Himself was ordered by Herod the Tetrarch to be beheaded, a very violent way to die. Later, Jesus would be tortured and crucified, the most humiliating violent death ever. Indeed, it is not easy to be a prophet. Let us pray for these anointed messengers that their tribe may increase and that they may have the wisdom and strength to carry on their heavenly tasks no matter how lonely and difficult they are. On the other hand, may all people have the ears to listen and the heart to support them.
5. John the Baptist proclaimed repentance as necessary to prepare for the coming of the savior. To repent means to respond in love to the call to turn away from sin and to turn back to God. May this advent season reminds us of the need to repent, to truly live in accordance with the word of God, to really perform our duty to take care of the least in the kingdom and to search for the lost souls and bring them back to the fold.