Intention and Ritual are not Enough

Weekly Missionary Reflection
Sunday, 12 December 2021
Third Sunday of Advent

Zeph. 3:14-18a; MT Isa. 12:2-3,4bcd,5-6; Phil. 4:4-7; Luke 3:10-18

Last week Luke summarized the work of John the Baptist as: preaching the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins! In Luke 3:8 John asked his audiences to “bear fruit worthy of repentance”. He stressed productive repentance: fruitful and impactive repentance, not just intention and ritual. In today’s reading, John broke down the fruits of repentance. Three different groups of audiences asked three same questions: “what shall we do?” (v. 10, 12, 14). What did John reply?

First, John gave a general answer to many people. This is a lifelong program that generally applied to all listeners: to share basic needs of life, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” (v. 11). This is one of Luke’s favorite subjects, both in the Gospel (Luke 6:24; 12:16-21; 16:19-26, etc) and Acts (Acts 4:32, etc). Advent is the time for us to share with those in need, to serve our suffering neighbors and to reduce the gap between rich and poor, and eliminate all kinds of discrimination, label & stigma.

Second, John the Baptist also highlighted specific temptation and sin, relating to specific work, job and position. Therefore, in addition to the above general call, John also asked for special repentance: to free ourselves from sin related to our jobs and positions. Two groups are shown as examples: the tax collectors and soldiers. Tax collectors can easily make the sin of corruption. It has been their job to be hired by the rich people who “win the tender” (offered by Rome authorities) to collect the tax from the cities and villages. The more collections, the more profits. The fruit of repentance expected from them is: collect no more than the amount prescribed for you (v. 13). Same as the soldiers. From the past till now, security is highly cost. From the past till now, many people are not satisfied with their wages. Soldiers easily fall into sins of doing violence and extortion. Hence, the relevant repentance for them, and also for you and I is: be satisfied with your wages, be grateful for the income obtained honestly.

Third, why should this repentance be fruitful? Because “He who is more powerful” than John is coming. He will baptize the humans not with water, but with Holy Spirit and fire. Jesus comes to make humans be more true and clean from any fake. Just like a farmer, equipped with a winnowing tool, He will separate the wheat from the chaff. He will separate the qualified humans from the pseudos, those who are full of good deeds from those without good deeds. He comes to empower us with His Spirit. His Spirit creates us as the new humans and empowers us to be His people who always share and have compassion for others, and bear real fruits of repentance.

(Hortensius Mandaru – Indonesia Bible Society)


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:
For the catechist: Let us pray for the catechists who are called to proclaim the word of God: may they become His bold and creative witnesses, and be always filled with Holy Spirit. We pray …

For Indonesian Churches intention:
For the farmers: May all the authorities help the farmers to improve their effort to have a good standard of living and to meet the needs of the society. We pray …

Special Intention for the year of St. Joseph:
May You be pleased to gather us with the Holy Family, to follow the ministry of Saint Joseph, to present the devotion to Mother Mary and to have faith in The Son. We pray…


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