A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew 3:1-12
John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said:
A voice of one crying out in the desert, Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.
John wore clothing made of camel's hair and had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. At that time Jerusalem, all Judea, and the whole region around the Jordan were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins.
When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones. Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and throw into the fire. I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I, I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
At mass this morning the priest said today's readings were not about hell, but about "The Kingdom of heaven is at hand!" He went on to describe how this is true - right now. I guess that is the difference between a wonderful priest and me. My eye is drawn to the chaff burning with unquenchable fire. The way to avoid being chaff? Producing good fruit. Oh please dear Lord, may I bear good fruit.
One week after starting this blog - what do I think? I am happy to be spending more time studying each day's Gospel. I have become even more aware of how little I know. But I am willing to admit my ignorance and go forward in faith. I have been heartened by the comments of visitors. I have been heartened by the feedback of the one and only person I know in "real life" I told about this blog.
And yesterday, I went shopping. Shopping is one of my problems. I can't ever seem to get enough clothing. I am invited to a Christmas party today, with people from work. I wanted to purchase something "festive." I went to one of my favorite purveyors of quality women's clothing. I tried on clothes. I purchased nothing. Undeterred by this, I got back into my car and drove to another purveyor of women's clothing. However, I could not find a parking place. I started to get annoyed. I thought about how wrong that was.
Instead of continuing in my determination to purchase something, and becoming increasingly irritated that everything was not going my way - I stopped for a second. I thought about a nearby church with a Perpetual Adoration Chapel. Instead of persisting in my endeavor to "get stuff," I changed course and drove to the church. I spent a beautiful silent hour of adoration. It was the best part of my day.
Would I have done that if I had not had "An Advent Journey" blog? Probably, but maybe not.
Thank you for your kind support and comments.
Your humble blogger,