In those days 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.”
Preparing the way of the Lord
John the Baptist preaches in the desert, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” John fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah.
Preparation, which translates into repentance, comes as a personal response to the coming of the Kingdom of God. It is no longer I who rule over my life, but God. I belong to God, to God’s Kingdom, not to my self. I behave and relate to others according to God’s expectations.
John the Baptist has a large audience. People from the city of Jerusalem and the whole of Judea and the region around the Jordan come for baptism. John welcomes them all. But when he sees the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for the same purpose, John challenges them to produce evidence of their conversion. They must be sincere. His baptism is not for the records, not for show, but should signify their turning around from old and cunning ways like those of the serpent that made Adam and Eve fall. They must shed off their hypocrisy.
Repentant people readily accept Jesus when he speaks. They will not distract others by their philosophizing, justification, or grandstanding. They will examine their conscience where they have fallen short of his love. Jesus does not find a hard time driving his point to them. They easily learn what God or the Church wants from them.
SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2019,” ST. PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.
St. Paul mass association