2nd Week of Advent: Sunday
Reading: Matthew 3:1-12
In due course John the Baptist appeared; he preached in the wilderness of Judaea and this was his message: ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand’. This was the man the prophet Isaiah spoke of when he said: ‘A voice cries in the wilderness: Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.’ This man John wore a garment made of camel-hair with a leather belt round his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judaea and the whole Jordan district made their way to him, and as they were baptised by him in the river Jordan, they confessed their sins. But when he saw a number of Pharisees and Sadducees] coming for baptism he said to them, ‘Brood of vipers, who warned you to fly from the retribution that is coming? But if you are repentant, produce the appropriate fruit, and do not presume to tell yourselves, “We have Abraham for our father” because, I tell you, God can raise children for Abraham from these stones. Even now the axe is laid to the roots of the trees, so that any tree which fails to produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown on the fire. I baptise you in water for repentance, but the one who follows me is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to carry his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fan is in his hand; he will clear his threshing-floor and gather his wheat into the barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out.’ Reflection This reading follows on from the Second Mass reading from Romans 15:4-9 which speaks about the importance of tolerance and compassion in our relationships with each other. Christ has shown us how we are to be with each other, we are asked to wholly follow his example. This gift of oneness of mind and heart will give glory to God and fill our hearts with hope. Conversion of life and genuine repentance for sin are the kernel of St. John the Baptist’s message. Genuine sorrow for sin will lead us into deeper intimacy with God and through his grace we will bear fruit for the kingdom. John always points to Christ as Saviour and acknowledges his unworthiness to foreshadow the Saviour of the world. He wishes to give glory to God and calls us to do the same.