A young man was jogging very early in the morning. He noticed a young lady about two blocks ahead of him. She was also jogging, she seemed to be slower than him. So he decided to increase his pace and catch up to her. He had about half a mile before turning right to his street. He started running faster, and he was getting closer and closer to the lady. A few minutes later, he found himself just about half a block behind the lady. He increased his pace again, he continued until he eventually caught up to her and passed her. He was so proud of himself, and he said to himself, “Yes, I am faster, I beat her!” He continued to jog ahead of the lady. He was so much focused on catching up to the lady and going ahead of the lady that he went beyond his turning point by about five blocks. He then made a U-turn. The lady on her own path continued to maintain her pace, and she had no idea that the young man was competing with her.

My dearly beloved in Christ, this story is what happens to some of us, if not all of us. Many times in life, we focus so much on competing with others that we forget our destination. We compete with classmates, with coworkers, with family members, with friends, with neighbors, or even with strangers and eventually undermine our destiny. The problem with unhealthy competition is, competition never ends; unhealthy competition is an unending cycle. Whether you like it or not, you will always find someone, who is better than you in one thing or the other. Someone is taller than you, someone is more handsome than you, prettier than you, richer than you, or smarter than you. Other people can be inspirations to us, but never allow yourself to be invited into an unhealthy competition, if you must live a happy life.

Today is the Second Sunday of Advent. Today’s Gospel passage presents John the Baptist to us as a good example to inspire us. John the Baptist was a cousin to Jesus. He was six months older than Jesus Christ, so he came ahead of Jesus. In today’s gospel passage, he describes himself as “A voice of one crying out in the desert.” Remember that Jesus is the Word, the Word of God made flesh. What is the relationship between voice and word? The voice is the vehicle that brings the word; the word lasts, but the voice disappears. For example, if you are listening to me now, you can remember my words, you can repeat my words, you can write down my words, but my voice disappears. So, John the Baptist compares himself to the voice that speaks the word, and Jesus is the Word of God that lasts forever. Going further, John the Baptist explains that his baptism was by water, but Jesus will come with a superior baptism, which would be baptizing by the Holy Spirit and by fire. John adds, “I am not [even] fit to undo the straps of his sandals.” Yet, John the Baptist was six months older than Jesus Christ. He knew his mission, he respected his destiny, and he focused on the path divinely prepared for him. He was satisfied knowing himself and being himself.

The season of Advent gives us the opportunity to reflect on our lives as we prepare for the birthday of Jesus, as we prepare for the second Coming of Jesus, and as we reflect on the coming of Jesus every day in our lives. The magnitude of our mission is not what counts but our commitment to the mission, the love with which we do what we do. Your contribution to the Kingdom of God could be as simple as a smile that makes people comfortable around you. Your smile as an usher in the Church may win more people to the Kingdom of God than the preaching of the pastor, who has so many degrees in Scripture and Theology. My dearly beloved in Christ, remember as they say, “Everyone else has been taken, you are the only one left, so be yourself. The best person you can be is yourself.” On this Second Sunday of Advent, let us pray that the Holy Spirit may enlighten us to be focused on our divinely assigned mission, to keep our eyes on our destination, and never undermine our destiny. May the Holy Spirit empower us to remain in our lane that we may get inspirations from others, and never get into unhealthy competitions with them, that we may be the best of ourselves until we come to our heavenly inheritance, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Ochigbo

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