(Matthew 3:1-12) How easy it would have been for the people of Jesus’ day to dismiss John the Baptist as a wild, raving lunatic. With his clothing of camel’s hair, the long, crazy beard, and his habit of living on locusts and wild honey out in the desert, he must have been a sight to behold. However, the people sensed the urgency and truth of his message, and they came out to him in the wilderness to be baptized. It was not a mere man that they were drawn to, but God himself. They realized that the longing in their hearts was coming to an end, that the kingdom of heaven was at hand.1
In a very real sense, John answered the question that has been asked since the beginning of mankind, the one that emanates from every fiber of our being: “What must I do to have eternal life?”2 The answer seems simple enough. Repent. Turn away from sin and turn back to God. But it was Jesus, not John, who would make that possible. He was the one who would release us from the hold that sin and death have over us.
Yet following Jesus isn’t easy. It requires conversion of heart. It is not expressed through merely external acts, but must come from within. As John pointed out, conversion begins with repentance – with admitting and being sorry for our failings. God’s love – the sweetest kind of love – can then transform us. And with His grace, our lives can bear the “good fruit” spoken of in the Gospel, things like joy, peace, and forgiveness. Our Lord wants us to rediscover ourselves through His eyes, to see the potential for which we were created.
No matter where we are in our spiritual lives, our need for repentance and our need for God never diminish. Actually, the closer we come to God, the more we grasp our great need for Him. In the presence of God, who is all light, “our dark sides come to light also.”3 As we continue our journey through Advent, the Lord invites us to draw close to Him, to turn away from darkness and bask in His healing light. We were made for eternity. Let’s spend it with Jesus.
– Kelley Holy
1 Cf. Matthew 3:2
2 Cf. Mark 10:17, Luke 18:18
3 Youcat – Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church, 229.