Gospel Meditation

2nd Sunday of Advent
“People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him.”
  John the Baptist commanded quite a crowd. What was the attraction?  Was it his unusual appearance—clothed in camel’s hair?  Perhaps it was his bizarre eating habits—feeding on locusts and wild honey. Or maybe people were captivated by the Baptist’s remarkable humility in the face of such huge popularity—“I am not worthy.”

Unlike our modern fascination with standing in the presence of superstars, the crowds who flocked to John weren’t looking for a thrill.  They weren’t lining up for autographs.  They were lining up for baptism.  And they were acknowledging their sins at the same time.  John was proclaiming “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”  And people came because they were longing to experience the freedom of that forgiveness.

John called them to conversion.  To convert means to turn, in this case to turn away from sin.  And the crowds were anxious to do so in order to “prepare the way of the Lord.”  For these first-century Jews, the imminent approach of the Messiah came with a call for conversion and they took this call very seriously.

Now, for us, as twenty-first century Christians, the Church, like John the Baptist, calls us to prepare and repent during this season of Advent.  Will we take the call seriously?  Will we examine the areas of our lives that need to change?  Will we pray for God’s help to overcome our habitual sin and to make choices based on generosity instead of selfishness?   Now is the time to heed the message.  Now is the time to “prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”