"his name is john" (lk 1:63)
"Lo, I am sending My messenger to prepare the way before Me." —Malachi 3:1
God's Spirit and the world's spirit (the flesh) are totally opposed (see Gal 5:17), completely at odds with one another. This contrast is readily apparent as we approach Christmas.
God prepares for Christmas by sending John the Baptizer. John lives in a hot, arid desert. The world prepares for Christmas by focusing on the frozen North Pole and Frosty the Snowman. John eats grasshoppers (Mk 1:6); Santa eats everything — and encourages others to do the same. John preaches repentance (Mk 1:4) and purification (Mal 3:3). Santa represents indulgence, commercialism, and "holiday" parties.
God prepares for Christ-Mass by sending a real person, John (Lk 1:57ff). The world prepares for Christmas by fabricating Santa, who is not alive, but draws attention away from Jesus' Christmas coming more effectively than any real person could.
God's Christmas present to us is His very own "presence," Emmanuel, God-with-us (Mt 1:23). The world uses Santa to focus us on every gift except the Gift God has given us, His only Son. This is why God has sent John. His austere lifestyle cuts through any temptation toward complacency and self-indulgence. John turns the hearts of people to Jesus and to their families (Mal 3:24). Let John prepare you for a real Christmas this year.
Prayer: Father, fill me with an unquenchable excitement at the coming of Jesus this Christmas. Come, Lord Jesus!
Promise: "All the paths of the Lord are kindness and constancy toward those who keep His covenant and His decrees." —Ps 25:10
Praise: "O Emmanuel, King and Lawgiver, Desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God."
Reference: (This teaching was submitted by one of our editors.) (For a related teaching, order our tape Counter-Cultural on audio AV 17A-3 or video V-17A.)
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Robert A. Stricker, June 23, 2003
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 26, 2003