Second Sunday of Advent
Gospel: Matthew 3: 1-12
John the Baptist was a man of passion and conviction - who was not afraid to speak the truth. Unfortunately, speaking the truth and popularity don’t always go hand in hand - and John paid the price for standing up for truth.
Matthew - who was writing for Jewish Christians - often refers his readers/ listeners to references in the Hebrew Scriptures to help them to make link between the “Old” and the “New” Testaments. Today, he identifies John with the “voice crying in the wilderness” foretold in the Book of Isaiah.
Despite his strange appearance - maybe even because of it - the crowds are drawn to see him and are convinced by his preaching. Many choose to be baptised.
Others are attracted too. We are wrong to suppose that all the Pharisees and Saducees were hostile to the preaching of John - and later of Jesus. Many were - but some were curious and tried to understand how it related to the scriptures and teaching they had been brought up with - and loved.
John’s challenge to them is to change.
They should no longer claim their kinship with Abraham as proof of their chosen-ness - that won’t work any longer.
What is needed now is repentance - a turning back to God and willingness to bear the fruit of His love - His justice in their lives.
Words will no longer be enough - having Abraham as an ancestor will no longer be enough. What will count is the depth of repentance -and the visible fruits that will be borne in the life of one who has turned towards God.
Then John looks ahead - deflecting any thoughts or suggestions that he might be the Messiah. He looks towards Jesus- the one who will separate the chaff from the grain.
Many of us have never seen this happening - but for many people in the world it is an essential part of preparing the harvest for storage. The ears of wheat are “flailed” to separate the dry husk from the grain. Then fans blow the chaff - the light husks - into piles to be destroyed - leaving the grain clean and ready for storage.
The symbolism is clear - those whose lives bear fruit will be “harvested” into the new Kingdom. Those whose lives fail to bear fruit will be lost...
What does it mean for me?
What is your reaction to John’s words?
How might they apply to you?
(C) 2004 Wellspring