by: Br. Dennis Jones Garcia [cjm]
Advent reminds us that we are all caught in the tension of the two comings of Christ in this world: His coming being born in human flesh two millennia ago and his glorious coming in the future as King and Judge. In the meantime, “What are we to do?”
In today’s gospel, John the Baptist who was proclaiming a baptism of repentance reminds the people who received baptism to produce the fruits appropriate to their being baptized. On hearing the impending judgment, the crowds, tax collectors, and soldiers all ask, “what should we do?” And John tells them. It is worth noting that his instructions are simple and not even spiritual: To the crowds: "He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise." To the tax collectors: "Collect no more than is appointed you." To the soldiers: "Rob no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your wages." Simply put, John exhorts them to be kind by sharing, to be honest and fair, to work hard and don’t bully.
Note again that John’s exhortations are all within the reach of his listeners. Nothing extraordinary. The prophet invites them to participate and witness in God’s coming kingdom wherever they are and whatever they may be doing-- all of these in the ordinary and mundane activities of their daily lives. They need to allow God to work in the confines of the conditions and situations of their present lives.
This is likewise the invitation for all of us. To allow God to work in all the dimensions of our lives including how we regard each other and our ethical obligations to one another and the world. God’s kingdom, doesn’t manifest itself only in grand actions or heroic deeds but rather, in the simple acts of kindness and generosity, of honesty, and of hardwork.
Let us be challenged more. As Pope Francis has just opened the Jubilee Year of Mercy, our Holy Father invites us to experience God’s mercy and compassion and to live our lives witnessing to it in our daily acts of compassionate and merciful living. We all need conversion-- metanoia, that is, a radical change of mind to a way of thinking and acting that is divine.
In our world that is not perfect, with our conditions are less than ideal, we need to experience this grace and mercy and have it rippled to the persons we encounter. I believe, This is the best way of living in joyful expectation of our Lord.