Third Sunday of Advent, 12th December

Luke 3:10–18

The crowds asked John the Baptist, “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” 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.” As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 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. 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.” So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.


People from all places in Palestine flocked to the Jordan to listen to the preaching of John the Baptist. Many people thought he was a prophet from God. And there had had no prophet from God for over two hundred years in Palestine. Others saw him as the promised Messiah.

However, the theme of his preaching was change of heart and turn to God. It seemed that he asked the people to forget about their political ambitions to look for a messiah to free them from the rule of the Romans and to restore their country into its former glory as a great nation. Instead, he called on them to turn to things spiritual and to free them from their sins so that they could become sons of God.

His preaching touched them because they asked John the Baptist how to change their hearts. He gave them the basic rule which was to be charitable and to share with your neighbour. Among the people listening to John the Baptist were two classes of people whom were despised most by the Jews: tax collectors and soldiers. They also put up the question of “how to change” with John the Baptist. In replying to their question, John the Baptist simply reminded them to be just in what they did.

All people were amazed about what John the Baptist preached and they began to look at him as the promised Messiah. So, they asked him whether he was the Messiah. He pointed out that he only baptized them with water, which was a symbol of interior cleansing. Though he was chosen by God to be the precursor to prepare the way for Christ, he felt that he was not worthy to be Christ’s most lowly servant, even not fit to tie Christ’s sandals.

John the Baptist continued to tell them how different would be the Baptism to be conferred by Christ and that of his. Christ will give the Spirit of God, a new breath of divine life to those who receive it at Baptism. The spirit of God would make man and woman something greater: sons and daughters of God. Christ’s cleansing will be done with fire to purify us. Finally, John the Baptist pointed out that Christ will separate the good grain from the useless chaff by using the image of winnowing fork.

Both John the Baptist and the people waited for the coming of Christ. In their waiting, John continued to call on people to prepare for the arrival of the long-awaited Messiah.

How we relate today’s gospel reading to us? Like people at the time of John the Baptist, we are waiting for the second coming of Christ. While we are waiting, we must prepare for such coming. How? We can go back to the basic rule preached by John the Baptist in the beginning of the gospel: be just.

We are Christians and we are the leaven of the world. What does my lifestyle say about my faith in Christ? Do I hoard or share what I have with others, especially those who are poor and on the margins of society? Amen.