My dear knights, dames and friends of the Order of Malta,
It’s the most wonderful time of year! The second Sunday of Advent provided much needed inspiration as I sat to bring greetings to all of you in celebration of this most beautiful of seasons.
The first reading (Isaiah 11) caught my attention, “On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD, and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD. Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, but he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.”
In the Gospel, (Matthew 3 1-12) that followed, John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea, the very one that the prophet Isaiah had spoken of when he said: A voice of one crying out in the desert, Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. John exhorted “Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance”.
How fitting it is that St. John the Baptist was chosen as our patron. Before conception, he was chosen to be a vessel for our Lord, to drive ahead and to prepare the way of our Lord. He wasn’t in this for himself, he did not try to con people with promises of social respectability, but on the contrary, in receiving baptism from John people ran the risk of compromising their own social position. Yet John’s nobility of character and his personal charisma saw people lingering in droves to hear what he had to say. Obviously, they were curious about this social misfit, and they were also curious because John seemed to speak with authenticity. Unlike many of the appointed religious leaders, he seemed to be someone who knew God personally.
In a similar way, for over 900 years, the members of the Order of Malta have been chosen to drive ahead by providing tangible witness to our faith through our example in prayer and action. We too prepare a way for the world to see Christ in our unselfish ways of helping those in need. As Catholics and as knights and dames of the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, we may not be called to speak directly on God's behalf in words, but we are expected to speak to our neighbour by our deeds.
As you prepare your hearts for the coming of our Lord and prepare your Christmas celebrations with family and friends, on behalf of the Order I thank you for your commitment and support. Please remember the poor, the sick, the homeless, the incarcerated in your prayers and take time to visit the lonely.
May the gift of Faith and the blessings of Hope be with you and your family this day and every day.
Merry Christmas & a Joyous New Year!
Roman J. Ciecwierz, KMOb