Preparing for Mass

December 08, 2019 by Deacon Michael Houtchen

Second Sunday of Advent

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.”

Produce good fruit

There were a lot of people coming to John to get baptized.  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. They knew they were sinners.  Without judging, how many of these people truly repented?  What gauge could be used to determine if they were repentant?  The same could be asked of us today.  Are we truly repentant?  We say we are.  But how can we tell?  Two thousand years ago, John gave us the answer.  Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.  Are we, are you, producing good fruit?  Are you living the way God wants you to live?  If your answer is yes, then there’s your evidence.  But, if you’re not sure, maybe you need to do a little soul searching.  I should ask myself the same question.  Am I living the way God wants me to live?  It’s soul searching time.  Isn’t that what we do during this Advent Season?  Isn’t that what we do to prepare ourselves for His coming?