“Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.” (Mt 3:8)
As I write this reflection, I think of my own Advent journey thus far. I’m trying to add and change a few things for this liturgical year to grow closer to Christ and further my own faith journey. As a result, I’m drawn to what’s told to the Pharisees: “Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.”
Advent is like a “Little Lent” which is why we see purple vestments, the remission of the Gloria at Sunday Masses, and Reconciliation services in preparation for Christmas. Advent means “coming” and we prepare for Christ’s threefold coming in these four weeks. Christ’s first coming is His birth and historical life. The second is His coming at the end of time which we hear about this week from John the Baptist. The last coming that we prepare for is Christ’s coming into our hearts today.
And thinking about all this, I’m left with the questions: what fruits am I producing as evidence of repentance? What am I doing to show that I’m sorry for my sins and am joyfully awaiting Christ’s coming into my heart today and at the end of time?
As said in the Gospel, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Since Jesus has yet to begin His public ministry, John is preparing the way of the Lord. How alluring this man in the wilderness must have been in speech and deed to attract all around him! All who heard him were compelled to be baptized for repentance, changing their ways. John warned the Pharisees that they must do so to show their change of heart.
Although we hear of trees that don’t bear fruit such that they’re thrown into the fire (a symbol of the Final Judgment), it is good to remind ourselves of the image of Christ’s Second Coming we hear from Isaiah. Christ shall be faithful, judge with justice, and there’ll be no harm or ruin in His kingdom. In short, Christ’s coming results in peace.
Through baptism, we’ve been given gifts by the Holy Spirit. Let us use these gifts so that we may bear fruit in our lives and are better prepared for the coming of our Lord now, at Christmas, and at the end of time. Let us participate with the Lord in the work of bringing peace on earth.