December 5, 2010


2nd Sunday of Advent - A
Matthew 3: 1-12

Produce good fruit

The Pharisees and the Sadducees appeared to be doing exactly what other people are doing. Like the rest of "Jerusalem, all Judea, and the whole region around the Jordan," they had come to John to be baptized.

The people, as Matthew describes, "were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins."

The Pharisees and the Sadducees, however, in John's words, did not seem to have the right motivation. Were they just going through the motion? Was it because people were going to John to be baptized, they may as well? If that is the case, then it is not enough what we do.

Nor is it enough who we think we are. The Pharisees and the Sadducees cling to their membership in Abraham's family. And John points out clearly that being children of Abraham by heritage is not enough. In fact, though it is not mentioned in this text, the Pharisees and Sadducees were the religious leaders at the time. That did not seem to matter to John either.

Moreover, John denounces them as evildoers with the metaphor "brood of vipers." [1]

The demand John sets for them is not to cling to who they are nor what they do. Rather, the imminent coming of God's Kingdom demands a change of heart and attitude, resulting in fruit of repentance. True repentance must produce fruit.

[1] Daniel J. Harrington, The Gospel of Matthew (Sacra Pagina Series). Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991; p. 55.

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