Gospel Reflection Dec 4 – Deacon Paul
Sunday, December 4
Second Sunday of Advent
Mathew: 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.”
“You brood of vipers!” Yikes, nothing gets you in the mood for the arrival of the Christ-child quite like being called a snake. We would probably rather hear and think about sweet baby Jesus, but John’s not preaching a Christmas sermon for us today.
No, repentance lies at the heart of John’s message today. It is a call to “change our ways” and it involves more than just “thinking” in a different way. We are being challenged to examine our lives and to make the appropriate changes.
Friends, what do you find when you examine your life? What truth does John the Baptist hold before you? Where in your life have you perhaps gotten tired and lazy, unwilling to ask, seek, or knock?
We need someone like John to speak the truth about our life, to awaken us, and to challenge us. For to be hurt with the truth is much better than to be killed by our contentment and our indifference. We need to be reminded that we can indeed change and that God is always coming to us.
This is why every year at this time, we hear from Saint John, and we see him before we see Jesus. We hear his words before we hear Jesus’ words. For John is the gateway to Christmas and we cannot go around him.
The Sacrament of Penance is a great way for us to change our ways along with going to Vesper Services on Sunday evenings during Advent. And so, today, let us “produce good fruit as evidence of our repentance.”
Deacon Paul Zemanek