“Teacher, what should we do? …”
Gospel: Luke 3: 10-18
10 And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” 11 In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” 12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” 13 He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” 14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.” 15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16 John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of His sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” 18 So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.
The crowd asks John the Baptist for instruction regarding the coming of the Messiah. The crowd is filled with expectancy and urgency, and some even question whether John himself was the Messiah? John set the crowd straight by telling them that he was “not worthy to untie the thong of His sandals.” He speaks of Gods justice, and proclaimed the Good News to all the people.
Relating the Gospel to our lives today.
Interestingly, John the Baptist speaks of moderation as preparation for the coming of the Messiah. This is certainly good advice for us today as we prepare for Christmas in our consumer society. The stresses of Christmas today are, for most people, more to do with financial strains than anything spiritual. The ‘fear of God’ which was a typical emotional response (at the time of John the Baptist) to the arrival of a great prophet or messiah, has been replaced in modern times with a more sentimental gentle-wonder at the birth of a baby. But if we focus too much on the sentimentality we can lose the deeper spiritual meaning as we prepare for Christmas. The birth of a baby does not seem as threatening as the arrival of an adult Messiah. When we think about the second coming of Jesus we may begin to feel, well, a little anxious! – Exactly the same feeling the crowds were experiencing as they spoke to John the Baptist. This week’s Gospel again teaches us that as we prepare spiritually to celebrate His first coming as a tiny baby, we are (in the same way) preparing for His second coming as an adult. Perhaps we too should be asking ourselves the question “Teacher, what should we do?” as we prepare for Christmas this year. In this Year of Faith, we are challenged to assess the depth of our relationship with Jesus, not just as a tiny baby, but as a relationship between adults. Do we relate to Jesus in all the complexities and frustrations we usually encounter in a relationship between adults? Or have we been keeping our distance emotionally?
Frustration between adults is of course something that often happens at Christmas. But this year, rather than allowing family tension to stress us out, we can use it as an opportunity to try to encounter Jesus in that annoying relative we dread seeing every year! Then we will begin to understand that true generosity has little to do with financial strain, and more to do with our hearts.
- Do I tell Jesus when I am frustrated and angry with Him?
- Am I keeping Jesus at arm’s length emotionally?
- Jesus knows me better than I know myself!
Help me to have the courage to be honest with you. Sometimes I do feel frustrated and angry with you but I am unsure if this feeling is appropriate? But how will we ever work through problems together unless I am honest with you?! Help me Jesus, to trust you with everything that is in my heart. I love you Jesus, Amen.