I think it may be safe to say that in order to accomplish almost anything, it is important to understand the rules surrounding what we want to do. To play a game, for example, I have to know how to play the game, I have to know the rules. In chess, if I do not understand how the various pieces can move, I cannot play the game. Once I learn the rules, I can play. The problem, just knowing the rules and abiding by them isn’t enough. Knowing the rules of chess does not make me a chess master. To become a master I have to find a way to transcend the rules, to go beyond them. I have to master the rules so that I can make them work for me. The rules can be limiting, or they can open new horizons we were not able to see before. Knowing the rules of chess will allow me to develop a strategy to use in playing the game. But first, I must know and understand the rules. In the Gospel today john the Baptist is preaching and admonishing each group he speaks about obeying the rules. He tells them to know and keep the law. Yet John acknowledges that simply knowing the rules isn’t all there is. One can transcend the rules, go beyond them and use them as a way to develop a strategy for living. Getting there, however, will take more than John has to offer. John can lead, but only so far. To go beyond the rules, beyond the law, requires the advent of the one John is preaching about. John is making ready the way, opening the door, making the law available so that we might learn it, so that we might hear the voice of the one who is coming, a voice that leads us beyond simple obedience, a voice that helps us craft a strategy for living, living the word of God.
Third Sunday in Advent
Dec. 17, 2006