In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, 2 "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." 3 This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ´Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.´" 4 Now John wore clothing of camel´s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit worthy of repentance. 9 Do not presume to say to yourselves, ´We have Abraham as our ancestor´; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 10 Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 "I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." Matthew 3:1-12
Petition: “God of power and mercy, open our hearts in welcome. Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy, so that we may share his wisdom and become one with him when he comes in glory.” (Opening Prayer of the Sunday Mass)
1. John the Baptist came to the desert of Judea, this was his theme: “Reform your lives. Change your ways.” Don’t get the wrong impression. He did not come as a man of wrath with chains and a whip. He was passionate because he loved people. He was a man who had a great insight into the reality of our life on earth and eternal life. He wanted to save people and he knew how much they needed to change. How humble he had to be, because people rarely like to be told they need to change their ways. He was clothed in a garment of camel’s hair. He gave his whole life to be an apostle.
2. People were coming to him, confessing their sins and asking to be baptized. They were sincere and wanted to change their lives.
3. Am I ready to make the necessary changes? This is the attitude of a humble soul. The one with whom God has compassion. He lifts this soul up with his grace. We have to accept our misery and come to God with an open and humble heart asking for grace, begging for grace. Why do we want to be better? Not so we can be perfect, but so we can love one another and not treat people harshly. What pleases Christ the most? LOVE. When we love, we do not sin.
4. “Accept one another, then, as Christ accepted you, for the glory of God. Yes, I affirm that Christ became the servant of the Jews because of God’s faithfulness.” “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles and I will sing your name.” Acceptance, what an important virtue. No one is perfect, so why do we weigh ourselves down with judgmental ways? Accept your limitations; be at peace. Then strive to be better. Develop your talents for the glory of God. God created us, yes, to be the very best we can be. Expect it to be a struggle, but a fight that is worthwhile.
Lord, I realize that you want me to change my ways. I want to change my ways. Help me to be patient and, Lord, be patient with me. I have to accept that I am imperfect, but please strengthen me to become a better person so that I can love you and help people.
Resolution: Strengthen your love and detachment by offering up one thing at each meal today for the sake of all unbelievers. Make a special effort today to have conversations that lift others up in hope and love.