Did you hear? A special guest will be in our parishes this weekend — John the Baptist. Yes, it’s true. However, he does not come only on the second Sunday of Advent. Actually I have noticed him at my parish quite often. Sometimes I will hear him at the ambo, or he will be standing at the altar. Occasionally he is standing right next to me or is sitting five rows back. Whenever there is good news to be proclaimed in bold humility, John the Baptist is there.
When a lector through prayer and study becomes one with the word, when they proclaim that word with reverence and conviction, John the Baptist is there. When a presider speaks passionately of the things of heaven, and beckons us to approach the meal of the Lamb with awe and humility, the voice of John the Baptist cries out.
Each of us is challenged by the good news to be like John the Baptist. God requires us to proclaim our faith boldly. But have you thought about how easy it is for each of us to blend into the “we?” Our convictions can be pretty weak at times because others will carry the obligation for us. I am sure each of us, at least once in our lifetime, has used a phase such as, “A lot of people said to me…” Actually no one had said anything, but we needed a group to hide behind because we were not willing to proclaim our personal belief.
Last week, with the implementation of the newly revised Roman Missal, the church provided each of us a means to make a bold profession of faith. A very short word, “we,” became an even shorter word, “I.” It seems so small a matter we wonder why the church even bothered to make the change. Why some would even say it seems anti-community, but the church recognizes that a parish community is only as strong as the individual faith of each member. Now each time the creed is recited, I must state, on my own and for myself, what I believe, and what principles of the Catholic Church I am willing to live for boldly. This may prove to be more difficult than wearing camel hair tunics and eating locusts and wild honey.
Faith can only be lived boldly when we know, as John the Baptist did, that the One who is greater than us, is the source of our proclamation. Being a voice crying out in the wilderness has no place for self-righteousness. And we have an advantage over John the Baptist in that the One, the Christ, is not coming after us. Rather he goes before us, showing us the way. Ponder carefully this weekend the words of the creed … and, filled with Advent grace, be ready to boldly proclaim “I BELIEVE…”
Zahorik is director of worship at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish in Oshkosh.