Intention: That all people will embrace the story of the birth of the Christ Child as a call to increase our attention to the needs of children throughout the world.
Today’s Gospel | Matthew 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.”
A Reflection for the Second Sunday of Advent
The story of John the Baptist finds its way into the Gospel readings of Advent because its themes of anticipation and preparation so clearly echo the expectation motif of the nativity narratives. Something extraordinary is about to happen, something for which people must make themselves ready in a profound way. It will not be enough just to prepare to witness it, because it is going to demand a decisive and radical response from everyone. In the same way, Advent tells us that to prepare for the coming of Christ is to prepare to take up our roles as participants in the building of the Kingdom of God. As Fredrick Buechner wrote, “Bethlehem is not the end of our journey but only the beginning – not home but the place through which we must pass if ever we are to reach home at last.” Advent is a time for us to become more like the One we follow, and more worthy of the Kingdom we seek.
Eternal Father, so often the confusion and turmoil of this world leave us feeling distant from you. We wander through our own wilderness in search of you. Help us to be awake to the signs of your presence in one another and be ready to recognize you in all of the ways in which you are with us. In this Advent time, let us be voices of your good news, especially for all who await their deliverance from suffering. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.