1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." 4 Now John wore a garment of camel's hair, and a leather girdle around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit that befits repentance, 9 and do not presume to say to yourselves, `We have Abraham as our father'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 "I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
All last week I proposed the theme ‘watch and pray’ for the meditation of the week. This meditation of the word of God would have certainly helped us not only discover the love of God, but also the need to deepen our faith and the urgency to better our way of living our Christian vocation. This contemplation leads us towards the second week, with the theme, 'conversion'. This conversion and reconciliation with God will bring us closer to the reality of the Promised Land, the land that the prophet Isaiah dreamed: "There will be no evil or corruption over all my holy assembly." This is the dream of every man of good will. We walk with hope towards this promise made to His people, a new world, and a new man, totally renewed and transformed.
The greatest temptation is the desire to see and visualise everything simply by the naked eyes than learn to cherish it by the eyes of Faith. Even if we see nothing new in this world, nothing exceptional happening around, we walk with hope fully relying on the sacred Scriptures, the tradition and history of the people of Israel that these literatures teach to us and the experience of the saints of the day who have lived their life with us, in this world.
Conversion asks us to restart once again, our long voyage towards an unknown destination, not alone, but with Joseph and Mary to a new Bethlehem, without knowing neither what will happen nor what is waiting for us. In this precariousness and uncertainty, however, there is a divine assurance (that day the root of Jesse will be set up as a standard for the people, the nations will seek it, and glory will be its dwelling.) A prophetic accompaniment is however assured.
In this week we will implement our personal conversion and reconciliation in a radical and perfect way. Let us listen once again to John the Baptist, the greatest of prophets who were born on earth. "Prepare the way of the Lord, make right paths. Preparation asks us to stand upright as God willed at the beginning of creation: that man who had the dignity to dialogue with God face to face, to understand everything that God desire to communicate and to present ourselves Free and joyful before this God who loves us.
Like those Pharisees and Sadducees who approached John of Baptist in Jordan, not to be converted or get baptised in the baptism of conversion, let us not follow our religion in madness with a fanatic approach. We must advance to the Lord and listen to all that He will tell us through this great prophet. "You brood of vipers! Who taught you to flee from the anger that comes? So produce a fruit worthy of conversion. "Already the axe is at the root of the trees: any tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut and thrown into the fire. " Let us present our conversion, not in a negation, but in an affirmation.
Advent is not only a time of joyful expectation but also of joyful anticipation, which demands a conversion. In this conversion, do not content ourselves with having done no harm or evil, but by multiplying our good deeds. Though, before this world we are like this son of Jesse, who remained unknown not only to the world and to the prophet but also to his Father, let us remain faithful like David in the field of open sky in freedom and joy, making ourselves available to those who are in need of our service. Let us not be discouraged, in this conversion, one day they will discover us, 'beautiful and with bright eyes' and the Lord will find us worthy and just. Amen.