Sunday, January 22, 2017

Reflection: Matthew 3:1-12

Sunday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time - Matthew 3:1-12

The Gospel for today focuses on John the Baptist.  When John began preaching in the desert of Judea he proclaimed this message: “Reform your lives!  The reign of God is at hand!”  It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken: “A herald’s voice in the desert; prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his path.”  It is in the wilderness where “the highway of our God” will be found.  

John typically wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt.  He also had a strange diet that consisted of grasshoppers and wild honey.  John’s mission was to prepare the way for the One who would come after him.  Typically crowds of people came out to hear John preach and he baptized many people in the Jordan River.  However, when John realized that many of the Pharisees and Sadducees wished to be baptized, he soundly rebuked them saying: “You brood of vipers!  Who told you to flee from the wrath to come?  If you wish to be baptized, show proof that you mean to reform your lives.  Don’t just claim that you will reform your lives; words alone simply are not sufficient.”   

John then adds: “I baptize you with water for the sake of reform, but there is one who will come and he will baptize in the Holy Spirit and with fire. He will clear the threshing floor and gather his grain into barn and the chaff will be burned in an unquenchable fire!”  John called the people to repentance.  Repentance (the Greek word, metanoia) is not simply turning away from our past way of life; rather it is the beginning of a new path to life, which typically is signified by the rite of Baptism.  Today and everyday we are called to reform our lives.  No matter how much we strive to be better human beings, we always have room to grow.  Today, ask yourself: how can I live a better life today?  May you strive to do so.

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