Dec 13, 2012

3rd Sunday of Advent: "What should we do?"

L. da Vinci: St. John the Baptist
Zeph 3:14-18a
Ph 4: 4-7
Lk 3: 10-18

The peering questions asked of John the Baptist by the crowds, the tax collectors, and soldiers in this Sunday’s Gospel, I think hits at the center of our preparation for Christmas: “What should we do?”

Send more Christmas cards?  Buy more presents?  Add more lights on the house? Throw another party? Bake more cookies and fruitcake? What should we do in order to prepare? Notice the Baptist’s answers:

“Whoever has two cloaks should share . . . whoever has food should do likewise . . . Stop collecting more than what is prescribed . . . Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied . . .” (Lk 3: 10-18).

What about all these “should’s” and “do not’s?” It seems we must remember the fundamental call of John in the desert to conversion and a change of heart and mind.  It was a call to set a new direction in life and to adopt a new moral framework for behavior.   

If I do not do something, then I should do something else. In order to truly level the mountains, fill the valleys, and make straight the way, as John metaphorically preached, then I must set things right and seek proper justice between myself, God, and others.  Reconciliation is the process by which we seek that justice and what strikes me is that John’s response to those who sought “what should we do” was to say: repair what is broken, bring things back to proper balance and order, be fair and not greedy at other’s expense, and make ready the way for the Lord - "That's what you should do."

Surely, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a right place to find the Lord’s forgiveness and to reestablish that justice – the right order of things – between ourselves, God and our neighbor.

Such good balance and order help us to live the words of St. Paul in our second reading from Philippians:  “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I shall say it again: rejoice! . . .” (Ph 4:4).

More to come . . .