The National Catholic Review

The child of Jesse was King David; from David comes the King about whom we sing this evening.  Jesus is the King of Kings, before whom all other kings stand in awe.  Kings are astonished and in silence, and their peoples worship before him.  It is from this perspective that Jesus, who called himself meek and humble of heart, is now seen as the power above all powers, the object of not just respect, but of worship.  No one speaks in a king's presence but the king and those allowed to do so.  All kings are silent before Jesus.  This description of Jesus almost contradicts the lowly child, a few hours old, who neither speaks nor shows power.  Yet, it is the love that flows from the child that reveals him to be greater than the most important and honored people of this earth.  It is this love which is seen to drive the kingship of Jesus, for it is his love which drives him to overwhelm evil, to demand obedience from the worst of this world, to give his life to assure us of what no other power could do - rise to eternal life.  The greatest of the world stand in awe, their hands on their lips.  Do we realize what they struggle to understand?

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The announcement of the future conception of John is the beginning, in Luke's proclamation, of the desire of God to save all peoples.  Indeed, this desire makes more clear than any time previously the determination of God to save all He has created.  John is to give way to Jesus, for one who wants to be saved should call on the name of Jesus.  John prepares the way of Jesus by asking people to repent.  From the beginning of the divine intervention to repair the covenant we have broken, God calls for a change of heart - precisely so that we live again in covenant with God.  The teaching of John should bring enmity to an end, for that is the wisdom of God John preaches - peace through repentance - and even for families.  The coming of John is a joyful event, for it presages God's determination to save anew all peoples, opens the period of Jesus' miracles and wisdom and death for us.  John was never sure about the identity of Jesus; indeed, even in the 50's AD John had followers - they did not follow Jesus.  But John knows one thing for sure, that obedience to God's law or wisdom is the way to peace and he relishes the thought that someone is coming who is greater than he - in power and wisdom and holiness, the expression of man's highest calling, to be like God.  John knows his way to life after death, that only one 'mightier than he' can make him live.  John, whose name means 'grace of Yahweh', knows that someday He will come.  His love will let nothing stand in His way. 

John Kilgallen, SJ