MT. 3:1-12




Of what good is a stump of wood? It is the remnant of logging, a left-over of a once vibrant tree, and now a dried-up, decaying matter soon to be drift-wood. But nature sometimes surprises us when instead of decaying, the stump springs back to life. A shoot begins to grow; a bud starts to form. A tiny leaf fights its way towards the warm sun and the gentle breeze.


Isaiah’s prophecy (Is. 11) describes how in seemingly hopeless situations, a miracle happens. What people think of as irreversibly grim, as a big disappointment to be accepted with resignation, can, with the grace of God, turn around with energy and renewed determination. Our God sees a stump of wood but refuses to use it as his footstool. He is a giving God, always giving, always offering a chance, always breathing hope, always on the side of life! The stump will become again a majestic tree.


In the gospel, John the Baptist encounters signs of decay everywhere. The Pharisees and scribes hardened their hearts to God’s message. The people are oblivious of repentance, seeing no reason why they have to convert to the Lord. They were complacent and smug in the assurance they were the chosen people, assured by the lineage of Abraham.


John preaches a God who is not intimidated by even the most grievous sin and rebellion against him. He pursues the people with great passion. He sends to them his greatest gift, his Son, their Savior, Jesus Christ! For God, Israel, with its stubbornness and indifference, is still not yet a hopeless case. One is coming who will start a revolution of change, transformation and renewal.


Sometimes we look into our struggles and find ourselves unable to crawl above them. We realize our weakness and sins and believe we are shackled to them forever. Or we may find other people around us bound to their destructive ways and hurtful patterns of thought and behavior. This Advent brings us hope since God continues to give us hope that darkness will end and light will come. I read an encouraging statement that said: “Don’t deprive anyone of hope; it may be all he has.” Surely God provides the impetus for overflowing hope despite our situations today. We need only to beg for the grace to desire it, to want it, to receive it.


As we prepare for the great feast of Christmas, let us allow the Lord to revive what has been decaying within us, to restore what has been toppled down, to mend broken dreams and relationships, to give us hope in our encounter with Jesus. Lord, open our hearts to the coming of Jesus, that hope may return to our lives!


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