Reflection: Second Sunday of Advent

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

 Mass is conducted in a mix of Cantonese and Mandarin

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

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[1st Reading – Is.11:1-10; Ps.71; 2nd Reading – Rom.15:4-9; Gospel – Mt.3:1-12]

The Gospel writer, Matthew, gives us a lot of information about John the Baptist in today’s Gospel.  He tells us John’s message “to prepare the way of the Lord…” and that John was already spoken of in the Old Testament as “a voice that cries in the wilderness: Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight”.  Matthew also gives us some information about what John wore and ate; how he used the river Jordan to baptise those who came to him and confessed their sins; how John preached about the coming of someone who would follow him, who was more powerful than him and that John was not even fit to carry his sandals.

Even though his name is not mentioned in today’s Gospel, we all know that this someone who John is referring to is “Jesus”.  The Gospel speaks about Jesus’ coming into the world.  John speaks about Jesus when he saw a number of Pharisees and Sadducees who were coming to him to receive the baptism.  Although John was quite harsh in his comments towards them, he speaks very truthfully: “if you are repentant, produce the appropriate fruit”.  Therefore John is not saying that they should not receive the baptism that he is offering (the baptism in the water for repentance). John is telling them that if they were to receive the baptism, they should ‘be repentant of their sins’ and ‘produce the appropriate fruit’.  Baptism is like the two faces of the same coin.  These two go together in such a way that one cannot occur without the other.  John continues to tell them that they should not ‘presume’ that by simply having Abraham as their father in faith, they are automatically going to be saved.  John says that Abraham became who he was because God was guiding him.  Therefore they should see what God himself (i.e. as their true Father in Heaven) is trying to tell them.  God, their true Father, is sending this someone (Jesus) who is still to come and make himself public, who is mightier than John himself and that John is not even fit to be his slave …  This someone (i.e. Jesus), sent by the Father, will baptise with the Holy Spirit and with fire and therefore not only with water, as John has done.  Therefore it is not Abraham but God, through Jesus’ presence, will save them and help them to produce the fruit of true repentance.  Now that Jesus was coming in the name of God, they had to shift their attention to Jesus who was coming to perform God’s work amongst his people.

John is coming to us today with the same invitation.  It is not what we are (Christians) but how much appropriate fruit are we producing of our Christianity.  If we want to produce this type of fruit, therefore, we have to prepare ourselves for the coming of Jesus amongst us.  If John the Baptist was an extraordinary man, Jesus is much more extraordinary than him.

“Lord, you are coming to dwell among us.  Help us to repent and to produce the appropriate fruit so that we can recognise you when you come, and open up our heart to you. Thank you Lord!”

 

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )

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