“El Señor está cerca”. He aquí el anuncio que nos hace hoy la Iglesia, he aquí por qué nos incita hoy a la alegría y por qué se viste Ella misma hoy de fiesta, con ornamentos rosados, con flores en los altares, con acordes del órgano. Está la Iglesia impaciente por recibir al Señor, y nos contagia a nosotros de esta santa ansiedad. ¡El Señor está cerca! Más aun: “Entre nosotros está Uno a quien muchos no conocen”. Esta queja amarga del Bautista desgraciadamente es también hoy verdadera. ¡Un año más llamará a nuestras puertas el que puede remediar nuestras necesidades. Y muchos estarán dormidos!
“There is one among you whom you do not recognize”. These are the words of St. John the Baptist. He sparks curiosity, even a hint of excitement that the Lord is near, that he is actually here, but he is, for the time being, hidden. “There is one among you whom you do not recognize”. Although, St. John the Baptist, knowing that the Messiah is soon to be revealed, is delighted with this prospect, a number of those whom he shares his joy with, are not very much moved, nor very concerned.
If we were to be informed that the Lord was somewhere in our vicinity, walking among us, in disguise, and was about to stand out from the crowd and lift back his hood and reveal himself – would that generate in us a sense of excitement, joyful anticipation. Or might there be fear, that we are not ready to face our Lord. Rather than welcoming him as our savior, some of us would perhaps fear him as our judge. This would mean that we have not taken to heart the earlier call of St. John the Baptist that we prepare a place for the Lord. The Lord is near. Do you have your place ready? And place is, your soul. Is your soul a good place for the Lord to enter into?
How we answer this question might be best reflected in how we approach Holy Communion. The Lord is near. He is our salvation, he is the one who we ultimately hunger and thirst for. If we recognize him as the one who comes to save us, then we will make our soul a worthy place for our encounter with him. St. John the Baptist has reminded us to “get our household in order”. Through careful preparation, an examination of conscience, confession of grave sins and the priestly assurance of forgiveness – only then will we sense the true joy, not fear, of Christ approaching us, to heal, not to harm – to free us, not to hinder us – to reward us, not to threaten us. He comes to bring a springtime, not a dark winter (c.f. First Reading).
“There is one among you whom you do not recognize”. We know who the One is – the one and only Lord. Some are indifferent, because underneath it all, they really don’t believe that God can approach us and reach out to you and me personally. Some are afraid of God, and maybe rightly so, because of sins committed and commandments broken. But during the time of Holy Communion the Church will chant the words of the prophet Isaiah who reminds us all to liven up, not to be afraid. Yes, the Lord is coming but he does so to save his people and to give himself to them. “Say to the faint of heart: Be strong and do not fear. Behold, our God will come, and he will save us.”
This is indeed a reason to join our hearts to Our Blessed Mother Mary, who, when she found out that the God would visit and save his people, there was no indifference or panic. We have sung this Sunday as our psalm her words and must seek to make them our own, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior”.