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Monday, December 15, 2014

Monday of the Third week of Advent
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"All regard John as a prophet"

Saint Bede the Venerable (c.673-735), monk, Doctor of the Church 
Sermon no.1; CCL 122, 2
"All regard John as a prophet"

If we seek to know why John was baptizing when his baptism was nevertheless unable to take away sins, the reason is clear: to be faithful to his ministry as forerunner it was necessary for him to baptize before the Lord did, just as he was born before he was, preached before he did and died before him. At the same time it was to prevent the jealous wrangling of the Pharisees and scribes from seizing upon the Lord's ministry supposing he had been the first to administer baptism. “Where was John's baptism from? Was it of heavenly or human origin?” As they would not dare to deny that it came from heaven they were obliged to acknowledge that the works of him whom John preached were also accomplished by means of a power coming from heaven. However, if John's baptism did not take away sins that does not mean to say that it bore no fruit for those who received it... It was a sign of faith and repentance, that is to say it called to mind that all must abstain from sin, practice almsgiving, believe in Christ, and make haste to his baptism as soon as it appeared, there to be washed for the remission of their sins.

Besides this, the desert where John dwelt represents the life of saints cut off from the pleasures of this world. Whether they live in solitude or in the midst of the crowd, they strain wholeheartedly to detach themselves from the desires of the present world. They find their joy in cleaving to God alone in the secret of their heart and in placing their hope only in him. This was the solitude of soul, so dear to God, to which the prophet was longing to go, with the Holy Spirit's help, when he said: “Had I but wings like a dove, I would fly away and be at rest” (Ps 55[54],7).
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