Gospel: MT 3:1-12
John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea
and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said:
A voice of one crying out in the desert,
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
John wore clothing made of camel’s hair
and had a leather belt around his waist.
His food was locusts and wild honey.
At that time Jerusalem, all Judea,
and the whole region around the Jordan
were going out to him
and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River
as they acknowledged their sins.
When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees
coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers!
Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.
And do not presume to say to yourselves,
‘We have Abraham as our father.’
For I tell you,
God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees.
Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit
will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
I am baptizing you with water, for repentance,
but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.
I am not worthy to carry his sandals.
He will baptize 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 his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
There is a great story I heard once about an ant and a grasshopper. The ant worked hard in the summer months. He stored up food and built a safe and warm home underneath the soil. The grasshopper played around and thought that the ant was foolish for doing his perpetrations. Winter arrived sooner than usual, and the ant is warm and well-fed in his home. The grasshopper on the other hand was starving and eventually dies in the cold.
In this season of Advent, we are called to be more of an ant than a grasshopper. It is easy to be a grasshopper with all our preparations for Christmas. We see the figure of John the Baptist in the scriptures from today who calls us to prepare. We may have heard or read this passage numerous times. We might even be able to recite it word for word. All of which is a great but let’s dive in a little more. Many times, I have heard homilist and other focus on the part of preparing. While Advent is the season of preparing and conversion, I think the question that God has for us is, “what have you done for me and others lately?”
John in the gospel today challenges the religious leadership who had come to be baptized by him to not rely on what they had done in the past but what they were going to do in the future. Many times, we focus on the sin something we did in the past and not realize that we can’t change the past, but we can prevent the sin of the future by changing the present. If we failed to be good to our sisters and brothers yesterday and we continue to hurt them today and tomorrow. The behavior doesn’t change even when we recognize what needs to be changed.
We find guidance in the wonderful reading from Isaiah today as to the qualities we need to embody to change where we may be falling short in our lives. Isaiah reminds us that we are to people of wisdom and understanding, of knowledge and strength. We are to cause no harm or ruin in our dealings with each other. Paul also reminds us that we are to be a welcoming people while promoting harmony in the community.
These are the signs of a true person of God and this is how we are to respond when we hear the words of John to prepare the way of the Lord.
Loving and merciful God
We continue our advent journey towards the celebration of miracle of the manager.
Help us to make ready our hearts for the celebration.
Help us be more Christ like to others in our daily life.
May we reach out to the needy and marginalized. May we cloth the naked and feed the hungry.
Help us to slow down so we can feed our souls. In do so may we do your will more boldly in the world.
All this we ask in the name of Jesus Christ our light in the world.
Rev. Fr. Anthony Martinez
Pastoral Associate – Holy Family American National Catholic Church