Reflection: Sunday 4 December

Readings: Isaiah 11:1-10; Matt 3:1-12

We know we are waiting to celebrate ‘God-with-us’ at Christmas – but what happens then? The first reading outlines that the one who comes to establish the reign of God will do so with wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge and an awe of God. He will ‘judge the poor with justice’ and ‘decide aright for the land’s afflicted’. With ‘the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked’. To emphasise that this coming of the one to establish the reign of God is a time of overturning ‘the way the world works’, a number of seeming opposites are put together: ‘the calf and the young lion shall browse together’. This is to make the point that despite what seems impossible to humans, all things are possible for God. Who wouldn’t want such a time to come?

The Gospel reminds us of another important component of Advent – acknowledging our past mistakes then looking to change, to be our best selves. This is well described by the Greek word metanoia or ‘change of heart’. John the Baptist concludes his teaching by pointing to ‘the one who is coming after me’ – the one referred to in the first reading.

Let us take time this week to reflect upon the ways that we can change to be our best selves. A good starting point would be ways that we can promote justice in our daily lives. Justice can be speaking for those who have no voice. Justice can be donating to those in need. If we open our hearts and listen to God, what we need to do will become clear.

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