As we think more seriously about our preparations for a joyful Christmas, again we are confronted with a person who has a different agenda! “Repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near. Prepare the way of the Lord!” says John the Baptist. What are we to do with this strange prophet who makes us feel uncomfortable? Can we ignore him?
In Matthew 3:1-12, John the Baptist takes the emphasis away from preparing for Christmas to preparing for Christ. That means preparing ourselves for a new awakening. It means turning away from whatever in us is preventing our spiritual growth, as Jesus seeks to enter more fully into our lives.
Martin Hogan, in his valuable book “Jesus our Teacher: Reflections on the Sunday readings for Matthew’s year” (Columbia Press 2007) says: “Advent is a season when we invite the Spirit afresh into our lives, so that Christ may be formed in us, as he was in Mary. It is only in the power of the Spirit that our lives can bear the good fruit that John the Baptist calls for.”