December 4, 2016: Second Sunday of Advent
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.” (Matthew 3:1-12)
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” Admittedly, this line brings to mind an image of a radical individual holding a handwritten placard, wild-eyed, dressed in unkempt clothing who is being ignored by passersby on a crowded city street. The word “repent” doesn’t work for me – it feels dated, old, and stodgy. And honestly, it feels sort of scary. And so, I’ll update the image – that helps me!
How about these alternatives: “Change, turn around, adjust your path, reconcile your beliefs with your daily life, or ‘walk the talk.’ There is time.”
I can begin today to reach out to someone I have hurt, rekindle a broken or neglected friendship, forgive myself for something I hold deep inside that keeps me in pain. I know that I am resisting some changes needed in my life. I want to let God help me to “prepare the way” during this Advent time.
Big change seems pretty hard. This week commit to making one or two very small adjustments in your path. Be attentive to what change takes place in your heart in the coming days.