Friends, in today’s Gospel, once again the fiery and frightening character of John the Baptist bursts on the scene as the forerunner of Jesus. The opening line is important. Jesus asks the crowds, “What did you go out to the desert to see?” The desert is a place of simplicity and poverty, a place where illusions die, where reality is faced honestly and without compromise.
The Bible frequently employs the desert as the setting for the discovery of bold and simple truths. Advent is, for us, a desert time. It brings us back to the basics.
Now, what does John say in the desert? “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2). That wonderful word, “repent,” implies a change of mind and vision. John is telling his audience (and us) to wake up and be ready to see something. What does he want us to see? The kingdom, the new order, God’s way of doing things. There is a cleaning and a scouring, a rearranging and a renovation that is going to happen. And we have to be ready for it.
REFLECT: What gets in the way of your own vision of the kingdom of God? How can you improve your vision as Advent draws to a close?