The Gospel reading from the Mass for Sunday Cycle C of the 3rd Week of Advent is Luke 3:10-18. 

Isaiah, a martyred prophet who lived 700 years before the birth of Christ (Is 40:3-5), inspired by the Holy Spirit, accurately foresees that the coming of the Messiah will be announced by one who is “crying in the wilderness” saying, “Prepare the way of the Lord…” ; Isaiah foresees John the Baptist.  A fiery prophet, John the Baptist lived an austere and rugged exodus in the wilderness like the great prophet Elijah, courageously preaching by the Jordan (2 Kings 2:6-11), wearing similar clothing (2 Kings1:8) and fasting (Mark 2:18). Christ confirms (Matt 11:14) that John the Baptist also fulfills the prophesied return of Elijah (Mal 4:5). 

John the Baptist’s holiness and powerful preaching attracted a large audience of Jews from Jerusalem and the surrounding area who longed for the Messiah. When asked by the crowd how to repent, the Baptist was practical and demanding: he instructs them to give away their excess in a time when few had much to spare. The Baptist baptizes even the hated tax collectors and soldiers who repented in humble obedience; he instructs the tax collectors to do their job but not over-collect and the soldiers to not rob with violence or false accusation. 

John the Baptist, revealed by Christ to be the greatest of men born of women (Matt 11:11), has a deep poverty of spirit which acknowledges his lowliness; he less worthy than the lowest slave compared to Christ. John accurately prophesies that his baptism will be eclipsed by Christ’s baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire at the Pentecost. Warning of the coming Judgment, John reveals that Christ is coming to sort men into either those saved for eternal life (the granary) or those punished and sent to Hell (unquenchable fire). A short time later, King Herod will behead John the Baptist after John courageously condemns Herod’s adultery and incest. 

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ’s coming is prophesied by Isaiah 700 years earlier and announced by the miraculously conceived John the Baptist. Son of Man, Christ is the perfection of manhood and awes the fierce and manly John. Divine Judge, Christ has domain over all mankind with the power to welcome souls to Heaven and cast souls into Hell. 

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) During Advent, most are drawn to the “little baby Jesus”, “tender and mild”, “sleeping in heavenly peace.” Reflect on John the Baptist’s fearsome  depiction of Christ who has a “winnowing fork” and will burn the chaff (unrepentant sinners) “with unquenchable fire.” 

2) John the Baptist is the fearsome “Prophet of the Most High”, the greatest prophet who prepares the way for Christ. During Advent, be awed by John the Baptist (CCC 486, 523, 535, 608, 678, 696, 717-720,1223) and pray for Christ to give you the manly courage of the Baptist to be a witness to Christ. 

3) Though Christ comes as a meek little child, He is a mighty King who at the Nativity is heralded by an host of angels (an army of supernatural creatures) and will be publicly announced by a ferocious and bold prophet: realize that Christ purposefully and miraculously creates John the Baptist and inspires his courageous actions and tough-talking profession of the truth about Christ.  During Advent, consider your own coming  Judgment (CCC 678-682, 1021-1022, 1038-1041) and pray for Christ to help you realize your dire need for redemption in Him.