The Gospel reading from the Mass for Thursday of the  2nd Week of Advent is Matthew 11:11-15.

Responding to the disciples of the imprisoned John the Baptist (imprisoned by King Herod because John denounced Herod’s adulterous “marriage”), Christ quotes the prophesies of Isaiah that confirm He is the Messiah. Christ now exalts John the Baptist as the new Elijah to the crowds and publicly confirms that He (Christ) is the anticipated Messiah.

Christ begins by revealing that John the Baptist, the fierce and bold prophet who lived an austere life in the wilderness, is the greatest man (none greater) who has ever lived; this means that John is on par with all the Old Testament prophets (Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Daniel, Elijah). John’s greatness is because he is honored to announce Christ and to be among the first to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven (John will be murdered by Herod shortly). Christ puts human greatness in perspective; as great as John is on earth, the lowliest saint in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he.

Though obscure, Christ seems to refer to the beginning of a new era of Spiritual Combat which men will wage in the age of the Messiah; men will do violent battle with evil and sin to make their way into the Christ’s Kingdom. Christ reveals that John the Baptist is the long-anticipated return of the combative Old Testament prophet Elijah, the one who will announce the Messiah; this is a stunning, for Christ is confirming that He is, indeed, the Messiah.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ has a sweeping view of all Salvation History, knowing the impact and relative importance of all the prophets; He confirms the Kingdom of Heaven.  Divine Prophet, Christ reveals that all Old Testament prophecies are being fulfilled through John the Baptist and His Incarnation. The Messiah, Christ confirms that He is the one long revealed in Scripture.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ, who’s birth is accompanied by a heavenly “host” (Greek: stratia, meaning “army”), awes John the Baptist, the exceptionally manly and combative greatest of men. During Advent, reflect upon our powerful and manly King.

2) Today’s Gospel reading is a special reminder to men, who are naturally endowed by God to fight to protect and defend, to recognize the violent reality of the Spiritual Combat against evil. During Advent, renew your understanding of the Spiritual Combat (CCC 405-409, 1426, 1707, 2015, 2516) and pray for Christ to enlist you in His “host” and strengthen you against the relentless attacks of Satan.

3) Men who enter the Spiritual Combat need brothers in arms, for no man can battle against Satan and the demon horde alone. During Advent, reflect about the power of the Communion of the Saints (CCC 946-962, 2683) and pray for Christ to lead you to saints, like John the Baptist, who can strengthen you in the Spiritual Combat.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Luminous Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Holy Eucharist

Virtue of the Day – Fortitude

Corporal Work of Mercy – To shelter the homeless

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To bear wrongs patiently