Repentance: Reform our Lives
On the second and third Sundays of Advent, the church gives us John the Baptist as a model of someone who knows how to wait. In this first passage we have Luke’s summary of the mission of John the Baptist. It is none other than the mission of Jesus himself and of all preachers of the gospel. Luke begins his account of the ministry of Jesus by putting it in its historical context. He tells us about who was in charge in the worlds of politics and religion and then introduces us to someone who was something of a threat to them both. John the Baptist is presented as inviting the people to repent, to turn again to God and to show their desire to do this by being baptised – a symbolic washing. In so doing John is seen as fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah in which there is a call to remove every obstacle that might stand in the way of God showing his salvation to his people.
This gospel reminds us of one of the key themes of Advent: repentance.
Repentance and its associated colour purple remind many people of the season of Lent rather than Advent but it is not difficult to see why it is so central to our preparation for the coming of Jesus. Without it, the season of Christmas can simply slide into an excuse for over-indulgence, an opportunity to party in an effort to get over the darkness of winter. These readings show the true meaning of repentance, for they speak about leaving aside anything that might blind us to what God wants for us, and opening ourselves to something new and wonderful and beyond our wildest dreams. We respond to John’s message by repentance and reform of our lives. We are also called to be prophets of Christ, who announce by our lives the coming of the Lord, as John did.