Change your lifestyle
1.✠ A reading from the holy 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.” Taken from today’s Sunday gospel for the 2nd Sunday of Advent.
2. The Advent period is a time of expectation of better future. The three reading for this Sunday bring out this fact. Following the history of the people of God, we know that after David Israel never had any other king better than him. The people had always nursed the hope of having another king that will be like David but how this will happen remained unknown to anyone until the time of prophet Isaiah. He was the first prophet to articulate the coming of the messiah from the house of David, 600 years before the birth of Jesus. Today’s first reading outlined the attributes of the Messiah. He will be from the house of David but greater than him because the Spirit of God will dwell in him such that he will restore the pristine harmony that existed between all created things such that even the animals will live in friendship with each other. He will fill the earth with the knowledge of God. What a great expectation.
3. When Jesus came, at the beginning of his mission he claimed to be the fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaiah as we read in Luke 4:16-18. He actually filled the earth with the knowledge of God and did many signs and wonders. Before leaving the world he announced the messianic signs that would accompany his followers: they will cure the, take snakes in their hands without being harmed, drink poison and go Scot free (Mk16:17-18). Today, more than 2000 years after his ascension, his followers still fail to cure the sick, still die if they take poison or are beaten by snakes, lions still eat other animals, people still live in hatred. Does it mean that the prophecy of Isaiah was not fulfilled in Jesus?
4. Today’s gospel gives an answer to my question. John the Baptist clearly affirmed that his mission was in fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaiah. He affirmed that the only thing impeding the full realization of the prophecy was the sins of the people. He called on the people to repent from their sins for the kingdom of God is near. In similar gospel pericope in Luke 3:11 John was asked how to show repentance. He said: “he who has two shirts let him give one to the person who has none. He who has food should do the same thing.” Repentance for him begins with the recognition that we are all brothers and sisters, children of the one and only God. When we realize this our lifestyle must change. Pope Francis in his encyclical letter Laudato Si said that the survival of the planet lies in changing of our life style in a way that takes other creatures into consideration.
5. Some people believe that they have right to use their resources according to their whims and caprices. That was the undoing of the rich fool(Lk 12:13-21). The same was the case with the rich man who ignored Lazarus (Lk16:19-31). Those around us need our love, our respect and our help. The attitude of pride, selfishness and exploitation must give way to brotherhood and friendship. If the prophecy of Isaiah is not fully realized it is because humanity has not truly repented to live according to the knowledge of God that is easily available. Humanity still needs to open up to the light of truth brought by Jesus Christ.
6. Do you treat others as brothers and sisters with love and respect? Do you work so as to let lions and oxen live together, that is, working for peace among brothers? Jesus taught us to call God Father because we all have one Father. This fact obliges us to treat everyone with love and respect. A Buddhist monk once asked his students how they should know that night is going and the day coming. The first said that it is when one can distinguish a man from a woman. Another said that it is when one can distinguish a goat from a dog. The last said that it is when one can distinguish a mango tree from an orange tree. For the monk night begins to recede and day begin coming whenever one can look into the face of any human being and recognize him or she as a brother or sister. If one cannot do this, then no matter how bright the sun shines it is still night. If the prophecy of Isaiah about the messianic age is not being realized in your life it is because night is still reigning in the heart of humanity. It is because we have refused to see others as brothers and sisters. © Vita, 04/12/22.