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A reading from the holy Gospel according to 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."

REFLECTION: Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.

Day 8 of Advent

This holy scripture does not seem to flow with the PEACE of the Second Week of Advent as one would understand it. While reading it I don't hear Christmas music in the background. St John the Baptist upon seeing the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to Baptism calls them a "brood of vipers". " Who warned you to flee from the wrath?" This encounter is quite frightening. Why is this gospel in the Advent season?

As parents we know when children are doing or saying something from the sincerity of their hearts or if they are "giving lip service" --saying that which we want to hear so that they don't have to do something or suffer the consequences of their actions. Do we say but not do what is right? Do we think we are holy because we go to daily Mass, or because we volunteer at church or because we talk about God all the time yet behind closed doors we are different? Do we go to communion though we have not gone to confession for awhile? Do we talk about others behind their back ? Do we wonder off or day dream during Mass or check our cell phones? It is possible that John the Baptist would be calling us a "brood of vipers" since he was a good judge of character.

This second week as we walk with Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem preparing our way to meeting Jesus, consider this--"Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance. "

God Bless You

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