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John the Baptist: A Marvelous Advent Model

December 4, Sunday of the 2nd Week of Advent
Sunday readings: Isaiah 11:1-10, Romans 15:4-9, Matthew 3;1-12

Advent is a season in which we consider the Lord's coming in history, mystery, and majesty. In history, our Lord appeared in the historic person of Jesus of Nazareth; in mystery, the Word became flesh through the mystery of the incarnation; and in majesty, our Lord appeared again in glory.

The first reading from the book of Isaiah on the second Sunday of Advent is a prediction of a new time in Israel's history that will be led by a ruler on whom the Lord's spirit will rest and who will be able to give justice to the poor and lowly of the land. Based on this prophecy, the people of God were very excited for the Messiah to come. This prophecy came true when Jesus was born. He came to save people from the grip of sin.

The second reading from Paul’s epistle to the Romans invites us to be people of hope with "steadfastness and encouragement" by anticipating the still-awaited second advent of Jesus in glory through the mystery of his second coming with firm faith because, in the mystery of the incarnation, God has already fulfilled the much awaited first advent of Christ.      

The gospel reading (Mt. 3:1–12) presents the marvelous advent model of John the Baptist, who prepared himself and a nation for the Lord’s coming.

In two ways, John the Baptizer prepared himself and Israel for the coming of the Lord.

First, repentance and baptism are preached.
Immersion in the River Jordan was just a sign of the inner change he wanted from the people. John preached about the baptism of repentance, which has two main parts: recognizing sins and turning away from those sins. John wanted everyone in the land to be prepared for the Messiah’s coming through repentance. That is why he called Pharisees and Sadducees "brood vipers," as they had no intention of having a change of heart. (Mt. 3:7).

Secondly, by his own life and example  
The gospel describes how the words of John drew people from all over Israel: "Then Jerusalem and all Judea, and all the region about the Jordan, were going out to him..." (Mt. 3:5). As the proverbial saying goes, "actions speak louder than words," John the Baptist’s deeds and life spoke louder than his powerful words! John's life and example as a witness were shown by the fact that he lived a simple, honest life, had a humble attitude, and spoke and acted with zeal.  

John's austerity was visible in his clothing and diet. "John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey." (Mt. 3:4). All these expressed his simple and devoted life in preparation for the Lord’s coming.

John’s humility is seen in his witness to Jesus on Jesus’ arrival to be baptized by John. "I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I'm not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (Mt. 3:11). John pronounced these words when he was at the peak of his popularity and glory. John teaches us that humility always leaves a space for God to work miracles.

John's desire for the Messiah reached its peak when he told Herod about his affair with Herodias, which led to Herod's death. Simeon, a prophet, said about baby John, "And he will go on before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to prepare a people ready for the Lord." (Lk. 1:37) He was full of zeal for the Messiah.

Let's take John the Baptist as an example this Advent and put repentance ahead of shopping, parties, and making things. The best way to get ready for Christmas is to make confessions and think about the past during Advent. Amen.


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.