2nd Sunday of Advent A 

This week’s Gospel introduces us to one of the main characters of Advent – John the Baptist. He appears and then he begins to preach and he has a very simple message: ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’ He is then given credence by Matthew – an outsider, an ex-tax collector, who tells us that ‘this was the man the prophet Isaiah spoke of.’ It was very important for the Gospel writer to give John this ‘status’. In other words he was not just anybody, he was an important figure and was to be listened to. 
John lived a very simple life, so simple that people came from miles to see what he was doing and to hear what he was saying. They were so impressed they stayed long enough to confess their sins and to be baptised in the river Jordan. What was it about this man that made such an impression? It was probably a mixture of things. For some of the people it would have been the words he was preaching, others his simple lifestyle, others the way he spoke to the Pharisees and Sadducees but for others it would have been the hope of the coming of the Messiah that he preached. 
John tells of the ‘one who follows me (who) is more powerful than I am; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.’ John speaks to everyone of repentance: no-one is immune or exempt. He tells the Pharisees and the Sadducees that they also have to change as no-one can rest on their laurels. Everyone is called to a change in heart. Everyone includes us two thousand years later. This time of Advent gives us the opportunity to pause and reflect on what we are doing in our lives. How are WE preparing for the coming of the Kingdom of God? How are we preparing for the coming of Jesus at Christmas? It is very easy to get swept up by all that we see on our televisions and in the media which is all about Christmas. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by our problems and those of the world around us. However, it is important that we prepare inwardly as well as outwardly. We probably don’t need to make big changes but maybe at times even the small changes are proving too difficult for us. As we journey ever closer to Christmas let us pause and reflect on what changes we can make so that we can have a change of heart which will make such a difference to our lives. 
Sr. Margaret Mattison 
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