Reflections on Scripture Second Sunday of Advent Gospel A

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John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!"
 

This call is consistent with the prophetic message of the Old Testament. John adds the urgency for the need to repent: the coming of the Messiah. Later, Jesus begins his own preaching in the same vein but adds the important message: Reform your lives and believe in the Good News.

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.
 
Matthew wants to connect the ministry of John to that of Isaiah. Matthew also wants to show that what John is doing is fulfilling the prophetic message of Old Testament.
How does God want us to prepare the way for the Lord in our heart during this Advent season?
What do we need to repent of and change in so as to better respond to the Word of God?


John wore clothing made of camel’s hair and had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.
 
These are the trappings of a prophet, who totally commits himself to do the work he was sent to do and to totally depend on the Lord even for his sustenance.

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.
 
What was the difference between John’s baptism and the baptism inaugurated by Jesus? In one there is merely acknowledgement of sin so as to be better prepared to receive the Messiah. In the Sacrament of Baptism, there is the actual removal of sin and its effects in our life and the entering into the shared life of God. In the first, it is the effort of the individual that is central. In the other, it is the work of God that brings this about.

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.
 
John is questioning the motives of these groups. He was aware of their self-righteousness based on their relationship with Abraham. They considered themselves the pure stock, almost above sin.
It is interesting that Jesus is going to pick up on their relationship with Abraham in his encounters with them. Jesus confronted this conviction and said: "If Abraham was your father you would have accepted me. For Abraham rejoiced in seeing me."


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.
 
What fruit are you bearing in your life?
Jesus uses the same idea when he talks about a good tree bears good fruit and a bad tree bears bad fruit. Or when he cursed the fig tree for not bearing fruit.

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.
John acknowledges that he is less than the Messiah. This is not just a statement of humility but a fact in who he is and who the Messiah is; what he does and what the Messiah will do.

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."
What are the qualities of fire that John is emphasizing here?
Does not Jesus use the same language in the parable of the wheat and the weeds?
                    What does God want of you in response to your reflection on this passage?

 

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