John the Baptist is featured in the gospel readings on second and third Sundays of Advent. He describes himself as “the voice crying out in the wilderness.” His key mission is to get the people ready for the coming of the Messiah.
I could imagine the curiosity, scepticism and even resistance he faces. Why should the people move away from their comfort zones? Why should they admit their sinfulness? How would they know if the Messiah is genuine? Indeed, such call is “against the trends.” It is unpopular because it has to do with faith and the conversion of heart, a metanoia. But John the Baptist persists in his mission and is able to draw the attention of a large crowd.
The Church, through the season of Advent, is repeating the same message in today’s wilderness of modernity, calling people to conversion and “make straight the way for the Lord.” The Church believes that Jesus came for the love of all humankind, and He will come again for that same love. His love is unconditional and embraces all peoples. Will HIs love be reciprocated by today’s crowd?
As Christians in this era, we have the option to choose: to go with the trends and harden our hearts, or, to go against the trends and open our hearts to His words and values.
Metanoia is a process in faith that begins from our inner being as laity, religious or clergy. Are we willing to move away from our comfort zones? Is Jesus the Messiah we want to cling to? Are we prepared to go against the tide and play our prophetic role in today’s society?
It is my hope that the voice of John the Baptist in this season of Advent will stir our hearts and convict to move towards Jesus, our Hope and Consolation, as we deal with the mounting challenges in our world.
A Blessed Advent to all!
Most Rev John Wong