RCL A Advent 2
Isaiah 11:1-10, Psalm 72:1-7 and 18-19, Romans 15:4-13, Saint Matthew 3:1-12

You have heard it said that the medium is the message, but I am here to tell you that the message is the reality and that the messenger embodies the reality.

That is the integrity of Saint John the Baptist. Wearing his poverty and his plainness, his camel’s hair and his leather belt, his sustenance of locusts and honey, he strides across our awareness in Advent to embody the kingdom of the coming Lord. He preaches and is something beyond our senses, beyond what we know. But he declares that we can know what he preaches and we can become like him the messenger of a kingdom we may come to experience. We may, or may not, be ready for what he has to say or the reality his words bring to us as we in name, for sure, and in reality, possibly, prepare to greet the coming Lord.

The kingdom John announces and the reality he brings in his very person are of one, seamless piece. They together offer us a deeper mystery and stronger relationship with the God who made us and who sends John to us to ready us for his Son. The kingdom he announces and brings in his person is a kingdom of equal justice and equal mercy for all peoples, whoever they are and whatever they have done. The entry into that kingdom you heard in the Gospel today. It’s a baptism in the water of the Spirit with a confession of sin.[1] It’s an entry into the life of Christ himself, both his death and his resurrection. Most of us have experienced it before and know ourselves to be part of it.

But John comes again in Advent to remind us of the riches and joys we have in Christ’s kingdom as well as the responsibilities we have by virtue of our baptism. For we are to be, as he is, the reality we profess. We are to bear fruit worthy of our repentance[2]; and in these things, baptism of repentance and bearing fruit worthy of it, we prepare to greet the Lord. In these things we become his by representing and being his kingdom on earth. We inaugurate a reality beyond what we have heretofore known. That is God’s calling to us. That is our destiny if we walk in the ways John proclaims and embodies.

For, you see, the choice is ours to make. We can remain as we are, or we can prepare to greet the Lord, becoming his, exemplifying his kingdom and performing his works of justice and his works of mercy. That way lies before us. That way is open to us, to become Christ’s own forever. That journey, like the thousand mile journey, begins with a short step. It can begin with a brief meditation on John, that he is what he represents, and that he leads us to Christ himself who lives now in our hearts and who lives in eternity in glorious majesty. We should take that short step, or something very like it, right away.

[1] Saint Matthew 3:6.

[2] Saint Matthew 3:8.