Vocation Meditation -
3rd Sunday of Advent, 2009
The crowds, who were gathering to be baptized by John, asked him, "What should we do?" In reply John 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." The 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."
John the Baptist was indeed a voice preparing the way for the Messiah and for people to take hold of their lives. Many came to hear his voice, to be baptized and to seek the path that leads to life. Three outstanding paths were pointed out by John.
John demanded sharing. People should share whatever they have with those who have none. This is a social mandate. With it goes God's pleasure. God will never absolve anyone who has much while others have too little.
John demanded commitment to duty. He ordered people not to leave their jobs but to work out their salvation by doing their jobs as they should be done. A tax collector must be a good tax-collector; a soldier, a good soldier. Each one has a duty to serve God in places and situations in which God had placed them. God is best served in our daily work and in our daily duties done well.
John demanded humility in himself. He was quite sure that he was only a forerunner of the real Messiah. There was no confusion of roles in him. The Messiah was still to come and with Him would come real judgment. As the chaff was separated from the grain, so the Messiah would separate the good from the bad.
John's appraisal of the judgment to be brought by the Messiah was one that spelled confidence because the Spirit brings transformation. Confidence in God is nurtured most by those who had discharged their duty to their neighbor and by those afire with the Spirit burning in their hearts. Then, they would be ready to accomplish their day's work.
"He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."
How will I keep the fire of the Spirit burning in me as I wait for the coming of the Messiah?
We rejoice that You are coming soon! Do not delay. Set my heart afire with commitment to my daily duties and with readiness to share. Let John the Baptist's humble attitude permeate my relationships along my vocation path. Amen.
For the full Gospel reading for this Sunday, visit the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops site.