John The Baptist calls us to Repent – to change our ways and come back to God
The Readings today provide some powerful spotlights to draw our attention to dimensions of the Advent and Christmas season that we might overlook. John the Baptist is a familiar part of Advent along with the Advent Wreath, Christmas music in shops, collections of food for the Foodbank, Presents for Prisoner’s children, Christmas Parties, all the features that make up our Advent season.
But in contrast to this mood of warm cheer, John the Baptist appears in the desert calling us to repent because the Lord is near. He is wearing camel hair and calling the Pharisees a “brood of Vipers”. It is important that we have John the Baptist at this time of year to remind us that to know the real joy of salvation we need to feel the need of being saved. Many people want a Christmas without Advent, an Easter without Lent, happiness without sacrifice, peace without justice or heaven without conversion of life. John reminds us of the importance of reform, that Christmas is not just a holiday season but a moment to renew ourselves in the power and grace of Jesus Christ.
A great spotlight is the call to reform. In the First Reading Isaiah points a second spotlight as he paints a picture of harmony. Every generation, including our own, has a chance for peace but that means we have to change. We have to be peacemakers, truth -speakers, respecters of all human life. Advent is the season where we need to change!