Luke 3: 7-18
For this season of Advent, we all live in this tension between imitating and differentiating. I would say that it is a matter for all of us, as believers, of being influenced by the world or to be influencer to the world.
Today, we just read about John the Baptist whom we cannot skip during Advent time. John shifted the agenda from being born to being born again; from being flattered to being humble; from being insider to being intruder; and from being self-sufficient to doing action for others, which is all about what we have to ask, check, and think of ourselves, especially during this Advent season.
Like John’s audience questioned in the passage, this is not a bad Advent question for all of us as we have been striving to linger in this season by pondering on the questions we shared last week—“Whom are we waiting for?; Who really owns this season?; and then, today, What then should we do?”
The world where John the Baptist seems to remain the same now as it was then. For sure, John is not talking about a little charity gesture, but about the redistribution of coats. What must be done, John says, is about half the coats in the closet.
For the tax collectors, what John meant was—Cut your greedy action; limit your passion to have and to hold; and control your desire for possessions. Yes, cutting our greed, limiting our self-indulgence, and controlling our desire is something we are called to do for this season.
As John concluded his question-answer-session, the point I’d like to draw our attention to is “They were filled with expectation, and they were questioning” in which we are tasked to do during this season of Advent.
It is no wonder that in today’s passage, King Herod arrested John, imprisoned him, and tried to silence him; because Herod and his friends preferred to keep and protect their established credentials. That was why they did not want newness, they did not have any expectation, and they did not question.
For sure, John’s Advent invitation cannot be silenced and cannot be arrested. Rather, John’s invitation still continues. Christmas is not for shopping and parties and cards. This Advent season is a time to rethink about the demands and needs of newness that sometimes will go against the way it has always been by breaking the tired patterns of control and fear in our lives.
The choice between being influenced by the world or to be influencer to the world lies ahead of us, especially for this Advent. I invite us to keep lingering in; being filled with expectation for God’s newness; and questioning ourselves,
“What should we do?”
Thanks be to God.