The readings of the day can be found here.
Advent is a season of anticipating the coming of God into our lives at a time when we are struggling with the messiness of the world. In my heart, I feel myself struggling against temptations and bad habits that lead me away from living as a reflection of God’s love. I feel my tension with living my spiritual beliefs reflected in the themes of hope and fear within the readings for the week. In Matthew’s gospel, we hear John the Baptist ask us to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” while he baptizes those who visit him at the river (MT 3:1-12). John challenges the sincerity of the Pharisees and Sadducees who come to be baptized. John’s question prompts reflection to ask “Am I sincere in my desires? Am I truly committed in my heart to change?” Any time we desire in our hearts to change and turn toward God, we feel a tension with the desire to return to the comfort of our routines. John’s question is one of challenge, and the second reading of the day is a reminder of the “endurance” and “encouragement” of God and the scriptures (ROM 15:4-9). I appreciate that the scripture acknowledges that although we may be prepared in our hearts to love God, by loving God we also commit to live a life of tension between loving God and being in the world. For me, Advent is a time to ask myself “Would I be at the river to be baptized?” and to be reminded that God is the encouraging presence to say “I am here to help you say yes.”