On the second Sunday of Advent we are introduced to another great Advent figure, John the Baptist. Matthew has him preach, like Jesus, about the coming of the kingdom of heaven. His preaching fulfils the words found in the prophet Isaiah about ‘a voice crying in the wilderness’.
John is dressed like a prophet and lives in the wilderness. Those who come to him receive a baptism of repentance for their sins. John fiercely attacks those who have relied on their status and their traditions for their salvation. They have relied on being ‘children of Abraham’ and have become complacent. For John, the love of God is not limited to the chosen race, and all men and women are called to produce good fruit.
John’s principal task is to point to the ‘one who follows me’. This one is more powerful and will bring a new baptism, in the Holy Spirit. With the preaching of John the Baptist, the liturgy is preparing us for the coming of Christ.