Today is the second Sunday in our preparation to welcome the Saviour who comes. John the Baptist is on the scene. We find him in the desert of Judea. Let us consider the person of John and the message he has for us. John is the last of the great prophets. For a long time people had been without a messenger from God to challenge them with the Word of God. The voice of prophecy was silent. Now, John’s appearance on the scene puts an end to God’s silence.
John began his preaching in the wilderness where he lived. Many Pharisees and Sadducees went to receive John’s Baptism. But John was furious at them. We might wonder why John made such bitter attack on them by addressing them as “a brood of wipers”. It may be because the Pharisees, considering themselves perfect, saw no need for change, while for the Sadducees, change was pointless, because they saw no possibility of any life after death. In short, both the groups went to be baptized without having any commitment to change their lives. We have a practical lesson here: Often we too can attend religious celebrations, ceremonies and rituals, go on pilgrimages to holy places, even attend Mass and receive sacraments and recite our prayers—without having the necessary resolve to mend our ways and to change our lives. All these turn out to be fruitless and useless. And John the Baptist would have very severe words also for us.
A famous Irish preacher and author, Liam Swords, focusses on the uniqueness of the role played by John the Baptist. It is highly inspiring to command our attention:To start with, he was a “voice crying in the wilderness”. The type of person every age needs and none more than our own. Somebody prepared to speak out;