A reading from the gospel according to Luke 3:10-18
10 The crowds asked John the Baptist, “What should we do?”
11 He said to them in reply, “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.”
12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?”
13 He answered them, “Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.”
14 Soldiers also asked him, “And what is it that we should do?” He told them,
“Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.”
15 Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ.
16 John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
17 His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
18 Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people.
Reflection: Repentance and conversion
John’s message is primarily a call for change of mind (repentance or metanoia) and a change of direction (conversion). Practically, he is telling us to be sorry for our sins and to turn back to God. In order to prepare for the coming of the Lord, he has given specific instruction for everyone such as sharing and being just to others. Otherwise, we will face the grave consequence of being burn with unquenchable fire.
The instruction of John the Baptist is not too difficult to do unless we have hardened our heart. Sharing our time, talent and treasure with the needy is a good start. Then we look into our behavior and see what injustices we have been inflicting on others. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we will have the courage to admit them and the will to stop doing them. Not only that, we will make restitution by returning what is not rightfully ours and compensating the loss of others due to our actions. In short, John is telling us to do what is good that we have not been doing and to stop doing the bad things that we have been doing.
John’s lifestyle was authentic. He preached what he practiced. There was no hypocrisy in him. No wonder he was a magnet for others. May the season of advent allow us to start listening to his words and change our ways so that we can truly be made worthy to meet our savior Jesus Christ.