Gospel according to 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.”
God calls us to live our life in union with him. Therefore, he sent people to become instruments of our spiritual growth as persons who are destined for his love. His only desire is for all of us to be ONE with him regardless of our status, religion, culture, or race.
In this season of Advent, God invites us again to live our life acceptable into his kingdom.
He uses John the Baptist to be the forerunner of Christ. John’s divine calling is to prepare the way of the Lord by preaching repentance to people, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. As his life is totally centered on God, we are called to also live our divine calling, which is to follow Jesus the Christ. Repentance is the core message of Jesus’ preaching for it is the path toward encountering God. Christ has come for us sinners that he may bring healing to our wounded souls, liberate us from sin, and offer us eternal life. How can he give his grace of healing, liberation, and eternal life if we ourselves are not ready to repent? As a matter of fact, the essence of our response to Christ lies in our ability to see within our hearts the power of his grace, and love. It is difficult to welcome him into our lives if our hearts are not contrite. Hence, we are called to admit our sins, turn away from them, and then embrace his loving mercy and live our divine calling.
To sustain this, God calls us to always turn to him in the desert of our hearts. In fact, John’s preaching in the desert symbolizes his deep encountering with God. Figuratively desert is a place of divine encounter. It is a privileged place for John to have deep moments of prayer. Desert could be the inner self where God’s voice resides. It is where we can experience inner silence. To enter the barrenness of the desert is to really empty ourselves and put all our trust in the Lord who can truly fill our life.
If we look at how John lived his life, we can find that Jesus was his point of reference. We too are called to live a life as John lived and make Jesus our reason for living our divine purpose. Let us be instruments of God’s merciful and loving presence to others, especially those in need of repentance.
Prayer: Lord, help me live my divine calling as I welcome YOU into my life. Amen.
— Br. Erwin Sayson, SC