Do You Know Who You Are?
Third Sunday of Advent – Gaudete Sunday
Do you know who you are?
I know you know…where you came from and who you belong to and what you do and what you value and what you believe and where you are heading in life and with whom you are traveling.
BUT…do you know who you are?
AND…how does it shape and fashion the life you live?
Today’s Gospel reading invites us to watch and learn from John the Baptist. John knew who he was, and it fully formed what he did in the world, how he lived, and what he was willing to surrender and risk. John gave his life to drawing close to God so that he could draw others close to God, preparing the way for the Christ. John’s daily habits of renunciation and austerity created an openness to God’s salvific action and honed his voice into one of confrontation and prophecy. John’s baptism of water was the culmination of his efforts to confront the hypocrisy of his day and awaken in others their yearning for the Anointed One. John was a guy who was all in, all day, every day. John knew who he was and lived it fully…even unto death.
This is the challenge the Gospel reading places before us today. Can we be ones who are all in, all day, every day? Can we give ourselves over to knowing God and being known by God in a way that frees our voice for confrontation and prophecy? Can we be the ones drawing others near to God so that their yearning for the Anointed One is awakened and expanding? And while it is unlikely that any of us will experience the big death for our faith, can we die in all the little ways so we can be faithful to making known the unconditional love and unfathomable mercy of God?
We have some good instruction in Paul’s Letter to the Thessalonians…
Pray without ceasing.
Do not quench the Spirit
Do not despise prophetic utterances.
Retain what is good
Refrain from every kind of evil.
Simple enough. Six clear directives that promote ever-deepening relationship to God, self, and others. Six short directives that ask for behaviors to build community and interdependence. Six challenging directives that, if followed, would change each of us, our church, and our society. Six beckoning directives that, if embraced, will allow us to know who we truly are … the beloved people of God, sisters and brothers to one another, members of God’s Community of Life, inclusive of all Creation.
My hope is that this week we will each practice these six inviting directives with and for one another. In doing so, we will proclaim with our lives and sing with fullness of voice:
The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
God has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor,
to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to the prisoners,
to announce a year of favor from the LORD
and a day of vindication by our God.
I rejoice heartily in the LORD,
in my God is the joy of my soul;
for God has clothed me with a robe of salvation
and wrapped me in a mantle of justice,
Advent Blessings of Joy!