Change and Bear Fruit

Missionary Weekly Reflection
Advent Week II, 8 December 2019
Isa. 11:1-10; Ps. 72:1-2,7-8,12-13,17; Rom. 15:4-9; Mat. 3:1-12

John the Baptist is presented as the predecessor of “He who comes” (Messiah). He appeared and worked on the “desert”, a background full of meanings in the Bible tradition. Desert reminds the reader of a journey of the Israelites from the Land of Slavery (both in Egypt and Babylon) to the Land of Promise. They not only changed places, but they moved to another “master”: from tyrants (Pharaoh and King of Babylon) to GOD. They changed from the slave of tyrant to the servant of GOD. Hence, desert becomes a symbol of transition and a journey to home, changing from slavery to freedom. This background suits John’s proclamation: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!”

Despite the different style, the content of John’s proclamation is same as the proclamation of Jesus. Israel must be prepared to enter the “new” Land of Promise, where the Messiah will be their King. That is the first message: we are invited to change! Advent is an opportunity to change: “to turn back” (Hebrew: syub) from all things that enslave us. Return to our nature as His creature, who should always be facing to Him, not to turn our back on Him. We have to return to a way of life guided by Him (cf. v. 2, 6, 8). We are invited to change our direction and path which have been wrongly taken: the path of pseudo-pleasure, path of selfishness, path of violence and power, path of domination and self-determination, path of deification of money, etc. Repentance also means “reversing the mindset” (Greek: metanoia): to change the way of thinking and mentality. Repentance is something radical: dipping into the root, to the core of our conscience. All practice and exhibition of piety are useless if the mentality remains the same.

Second, John also invites us to bear fruit (v. 8). Being baptized and admitting our mistake are not enough. It must be proved by real action and deeds. This strong invitation was addressed to the Pharisees and Sadducees. In terms of Jewish piety level, both of these groups are above the average level, compared to the ordinary people. However for John, they are the one who need repentance the most. Repentance is required by those who “feel safe”. They are proud of their status as “the son of Abraham”. For John, they are not more than “descendants of poisonous serpents”: the hypocrite and cunning generation, using religious mask to cover various self interests, feeling secure that they have booked the heaven only because of the membership of God’s people. Their religion is like a “poisonous serpent”: giving bad example and killing the genuine faith of the common people.

Third, John prepares us to welcome “He who comes” (v. 11-12). He who will baptize us with the Holy Spirit and fire, not with water anymore. Jesus, the Messiah will come to cleanse and renew us totally and profoundly. Nevertheless, He is coming also to judge us. He is prepared with a “winnowing fork” to separate the wheat from the chaff. Only those who bear the “fruit of repentance” will survive. They will be gathered and saved by the Messiah, while those who “don’t bear fruits” will definitely be sent to the eternal doom.

(Hortensio Mandaru – Indonesia Bible Society, Jakarta)

DAILY DEDICATED PRAYER

Lord, our Father, I present my today prayer, thought, word, work, joy and sorrow in the unity with Your Son, Jesus Christ, who always presents Himself in the Eucharist for the world salvation. May the Holy Spirit, as the soul of Jesus, also lead and give me the strength today so that I am ready to be the witness of Your love.

Together with St. Mary, Mother of Jesus and the Church, I specially present my prayer to our Pope and Indonesian Church prayer apostles of this month:

For Evangelization intention:

The future of the youth: May every country resolve to determine and take the necessary steps to put ahead and guarantee the future of the youth, especially those who suffer and despair. We pray…

For Indonesian Churches intention:

Marriage Fidelity: May the fidelity to marriage pledge will not fade because of trivial matters in daily life which often trigger a dispute in the family. We pray…

Special Intention:

May the people in our Diocese welcome the wisdom of Holy Spirit to take an important role in building the wisdom of peace and perseverance in family in their home or in their place of service. We pray

Amen

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