Third Sunday of Advent
As to prepare the way of the Lord
And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” He said to them in reply, “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He answered them, “Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.” Soldiers also asked him, “And what is it that we should do?” He told them, “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.” Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah. John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Lk 3,10-17
One week ago we pondered on the figure of John the Baptist in the history of the salvation, as the one who prepare the coming of Jesus Christ: “A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths” (Lk 3,4). As a difference from Mathew and Mark – the other evangelists who present the Baptist as the forerunner of Jesus – Luke, when answering to the crowd which asks him “what then should we do?” specifies in a concrete mode what to prepare the way of the Lord means. To a well-to-do person he says: “Whoever has two cloaks should share with a person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise”; and to the tax collectors who, when collecting the taxes on behalf of Rome were used to keep for them a significant portion, he recommends not to profit of the situation to obtain a personal interest: “Stop collecting more than what is prescribed”. Also to the soldiers who were exercising the power on behalf of Rome he says not to profit of their role: “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone and be satisfied with your wages”. In other words, for John the Baptist to prepare the way to the coming of the Lord means to live with generosity, with honesty, without profiting of the role and of the situations in which we are, to obtain advantages to the disadvantage of the neighbour. For what reason the generosity and the honesty are the virtues which prepare the way to the conversion of the heart?.. The answer is easy: the man has no difficulty to believe to the truths of the Kingdom of the heaven which Jesus describes by parables and teachings as well as he has no difficulty to believe to the miracles, because the man has always the idea of a God of the wisdom and of over human potential. The resistance to be converted comes out when we have to share what we have or we have to give up the easy earnings – especially if not honest ones – which the role in the society or our personal capabilities would allow us to achieve. The problem is not in the belief of the announcement of the Gospel, but in the change of life which is required to us, because if the man has to give up something which is in his possession, it appears as the ground under him would collapse. Unfortunately, we are composed by a mixing featured of weak faith towards a provident God, of little love for the neighbour, of a lot of personal social climbing and little confidence in ourselves, because of which we trust only in what we own. We need to convert us to the generosity and to the honesty as the starting point towards the poverty, which s the real condition to abandon ourselves with trust to a provident God, who provides food to the birds of the sky and who dressed the lilies of the field.