1st Reading: Isaiah 11:1–10
On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord, and his elight shall be the fear of the Lord. Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, but he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips. Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them. The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like the ox. The baby shall play by the cobra’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair. There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord, as water covers the sea. On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.
2nd Reading: Romans 15:4–9
Brothers and sisters: Whatever was written previously was written for our instruction, that by endurance and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus, that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I say that Christ became a minister of the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, to confirm the promises of the patriarchs, but so that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written: Therefore, I will praise you among the Gentiles and sing praises to your name.
Gospel: Matthew 3:1–12
John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said: A voice of one crying out in the desert, Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair and had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. At that time Jerusalem, all Judea, and the whole region around the Jordan were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones. Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
REPENTING IS WELCOMING CHRIST: Once human beings went against the will of God, they welcomed sin into their lives. Harmony that existed in the world was destroyed by sin. The good order that God had put in the world was destroyed. Christ came to get rid of sin so that God’s creation can once again exist in harmony. To get rid of sin Christ had to fight sin within human beings. For Christ to succeed in the war against sin, human beings must cooperate with him. The first thing that a human being must do to get rid of sin through repentance so as to welcome Christ into one’s life. Without repenting a person cannot claim that he or she wants to welcome Christ into his or her life. If Christ is coming to restore harmony in creation, that harmony cannot benefit a person if he or she is not ready to repent.
Prayer: Come Lord to deliver us from the evil one.
BE ALWAYS ON THE LOOK-OUT FOR HIM: Isaiah draws a very sanguine picture of the House of God. Here is a time that marks a sea change. He visualizes a great transformation in the attitude of the people. It’s indeed remarkable to see that they leave their warring ways and embrace peaceful means. But God invites each to be watchful. As a great season begins, this seems the abiding theme. Once, a man said that he was eager to meet God. His heart burned for a face to face meeting with Him. He travelled a lot: for several years. He visited several towns and cities. And one day, at an evening hour he found it written: “House of God”. Oh, ‘My life’s search has come to an end’. He walked up the steps to the calling bell. But there, he hesitated: just a moment. Now if I ring the bell, God will open the door from inside. He will be in front of me. Then we will talk. He will ask me questions. No. I am not ready for any questions: and he walked back. Several people put things off, telling to oneself: there is plenty of time. I can afford to relax a bit. Why all this strictures of life? Take things lightly. When man thinks he can carry on without stop his unruly ways, he is on the way to ruin. Let’s be prepared that we are not caught unawares. Let’s wait for the Lord and be prepared to meet Him face to face.