2nd Sunday of Advent – 04th December 2022 — Gospel: Mt 3, 1-12
The Messiah’s Herald
In all the four gospels, the narrative of Jesus’ ministry preface with an account of John the Baptist. John’s contemporaries viewed him as Jesus’ forerunner and the evangelists presented him as Jesus’ herald. John’s command to repent for the kingdom is same as Jesus’ opening proclamation in Galilee (3,7; 4,17). Similarly, the opponents are addressed by John and Jesus as “You brood of vipers” (3,7; 12,34; 23,33). In this way Matthew draws John and Jesus closer and subtly presents John as a witness to Jesus. In another sense, John seems to have proclaimed to his followers the immediate appearance of a human but supernaturally empowered Messiah (Mt 3,11) that recalls the anticipated Messiah of Is 11,1-5.
Though John and Jesus proclaim the same message, their missions are quite different. John is the forerunner, preparing for Jesus with a water baptism of repentance. Jesus will baptize with “the Holy Spirit and fire”. Both cleansing water and refining fire are prophetic images expressing the outpouring of God’s Spirit in the final age. This baptismal expression of Jesus’ work refers to his whole ministry of preaching, healing and forgiving. His ministry is like a harvester who separates the wheat from the chaff by tossing the harvested grain in the air with the winnowing fork. The righteous are like the good wheat gathered into the granary while the unrepentant are like the useless chaff to be swept up and burnt. In recalling the first coming of Jesus in humility, the season of advent focuses on the second coming of Christ as judge. God’s love that comes down at Christmas is remembered as a divine love that is fierce in its judgement of those who resist love’s demands. John the Baptist gives warning of that repentance, which must not be procrastinated.