“Sent by God” by Fr Eunan McDonnell SDB

“Sent by God”                                                                                         Reflection for 3rd Sunday of Advent


Have you ever found yourself driving along country roads in the dead of winter, with freshly fallen snow and a freezing fog that has just descended? I found myself in such a situation a few years ago. I only relaxed my grip on the steering wheel whenever I could spot the red lights of a car in front of me.  What a gift from God. However, more often than not, my guide would disappear and once more I would tense up as I negotiated the road ahead. Often, I would look into the rear-view mirror and smile to myself: behind me would be a line of traffic taking comfort from the fact that I was now leading them, but they didn’t know what I knew – I didn’t know where I was going!

Life is like that. In particular, the journey of faith is like that.  In our lives, we will be sent by God to be a ‘light’ in the darkness that others can follow and, at other times, we will need someone to go ahead of us with their light, so we can follow them. This seems to me to be the essence of John the Baptist.  He is ‘sent by God.’ He recognizes that he is not the light, but his mission is to prepare the way for the light, Christ the light.

How does John understand himself?  When he is asked “who are you?” Unlike us, he doesn’t reply by telling his name, age, nationality or anything about his work. He replies immediately in terms of his mission. He understands himself as being sent by God. To the question: Who are you? He replies:

“I am a voice, calling out, prepare the way of the Lord…”

“I am not the light, but I am preparing you to receive the light…”

“I baptize with water, but there stands among you, one who is more powerful

than I am… He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit….”

Back to driving in the snow and fog. How warm and welcoming were those red tail lights as they led me through the fog. Like Christmas decorations, they now remind me of all those people on my journey who have brought me a step closer to Christ, who have prepared the way for the Lord in my life. As I think of each of them, my heart is filled with gratitude. Their example, their kindness, their support, their guidance, and even their challenges.  As we drive along this advent, or even more likely as we get stuck in traffic, may the tail lights of the car ahead of us remind us of them. Those persons sent by God into our lives who like John the Baptist, prepared the way of the Lord for us.  May we give thanks to God for the gift they are. May we learn from them and pass on what we have received. May we also prepare the way of the Lord in the lives of others this Advent. Remember, you too are sent by God (Jn.1:6).