It sounds strange to see, in the last verse of this Sunday’s Gospel reading, the words “warnings” and “Good News” in the same sentence. For John the Baptiser there was no contradiction between warning people about their injustice and proclaiming the Good News of the coming One. Preparing for God’s coming was not just about having some nice feeling in the heart or agreeing with some theological ideas. Preparation for John was about changing every facet of life – attitudes, belief systems and behaviour. This remains true for us as we hear the Advent call to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ.

It is tragic that the season of preparation and incarnation has become one of the most unjust times in the human year. It is devastating that the time of “Good News” has become about consumption, materialism, and self-indulgence. If there is any preparation at all, it is in nice feelings of “goodwill” which may cause us to give a few coins to a beggar, or be nice to someone we would rather reject. But what Advent calls us to is a far more radical preparation of our hearts and lives. It calls us to become people for whom justice is a core value. It calls us to be people who have been captured and consumed by the principles and mission of God’s Jubilee Dream – which is about economic equality, freedom, and caring for the earth. John the Baptiser is the embodiment of this alternative way of living – humility, commitment to the poor, sacrifice, simplicity, challenging corruption, and integrity.

This week we will allow these values to challenge us to be true Advent people rather than just those who use the season as an excuse to pander to our addictions.

To download this week’s reflections in PDF format, click here.