Prayer of the Christmas season

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Memorial of Saints Basil the Great (330-379), bishop of Caesarea and Father of monasticism in the East, and of Gregory Nazianzus (330-389), Doctor of the Church and Patriarch of Constantinople.


Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Glory to God in the highest
and peace on earth to the people he loves.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

John 1,19-28

This was the witness of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, 'Who are you?' He declared, he did not deny but declared, 'I am not the Christ.' So they asked, 'Then are you Elijah?' He replied, 'I am not.' 'Are you the Prophet?' He answered, 'No.' So they said to him, 'Who are you? We must take back an answer to those who sent us. What have you to say about yourself?' So he said, 'I am, as Isaiah prophesied: A voice of one that cries in the desert: Prepare a way for the Lord. Make his paths straight!' Now those who had been sent were Pharisees, and they put this question to him, 'Why are you baptising if you are not the Christ, and not Elijah, and not the Prophet?' John answered them, 'I baptise with water; but standing among you -- unknown to you- is the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandal.' This happened at Bethany, on the far side of the Jordan, where John was baptising.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This Gospel introduces us again to John the Baptist. A just and austere man, he lives in the desert, removed from the religious and political capital of Israel. And yet, many flock to him to receive a penitential baptism so as to be regenerated to a more serene life. Everybody esteems him, even to the extent of calling him the Messiah, Elijah, or some great prophet. There was an extraordinary need for hope at that time. Even today, aren't we in the same need for hope? We always need the help of someone, and even more in difficult times like the ones in which we are living. But let us not forget that only Jesus, and not anyone else, is able to save us. The temptation to search for low cost saviours is dangerous and we cannot think that we can save ourselves. The Baptist understood this well; to describe himself, he only said, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.'" What does one voice matter? Little more than nothing. And yet, John the Baptist's words are not in vain: rather they touched those who listened to them. This was his strength, a weak strength that was able to touch the hearts of those who listened to him for a spiritual strength was present in his words. John is a figure of the witnesses of the Gospel; we can say that he is a figure of the Church: a voice that calls out Jesus to men and women of one's time with spiritual authoritativeness. John does not belong to himself. He is not (and does not want to be) at the centre of attention. He points out the other, the Lord. Even the Church does not belong to itself and does not live for itself; rather it lives to lead people to Jesus. The same thing is also true for every disciple, whether as a consecrated minister or a simple believer: we are all called to bring others to Jesus, not towards ourselves.