I tell you this: no one greater than John the Baptist has arisen among the sons of women, and yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven is something to be conquered and violent men seize it.
Up to the time of John, there was only prophesy: all the prophets and the Law; and if you believe me, John is indeed that Elijah, whose coming was predicted. Let anyone with ears listen
John the Baptist is one of the figures that leads us in the spirit of Advent. Jesus praises him. John is not a reed swept by the wind, nor a man dressed in fine clothes. He is the greatest representative of the First Covenant. He is the powerful voice in the desert. But Jesus marks the greatness of the New Covenant in himself. With much humility, let us acknowledge our membership in this final period of the History of Salvation, and be faithful to it. How? The following sentence of Jesus gives us a clue. The Kingdom needs strenuous effort, and the unyielding will take it by force. This is the moral struggle against the enemies of our salvation in Christ – our passions, the examples of the society and the inner temptations of devil. The steadfast seize it, as we see in Christian Martyrs and Saints.
The last words of Jesus refer to the prophesy of Malachi – “I am going to send you the prophet Elijah before the day of the Lord comes” (3:23), and are applied to John the Baptist, his very forerunner even in the suffering element of redemption.
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