Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle C

Third Sunday of Advent


 Luke 3.10-18

“What must we do, then?”

This question from the crowd is in response to the preaching of John the Baptist. John was the last of the long line of Old Testament prophets. His message was a call to repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He demanded a radical conversion of life in readiness for the coming of God’s kingdom. He offered a form of baptism as a sign of this conversion, but he was quite clear: this external rite alone would not save them. There must be a real change of heart, a change which is sincere and which will be manifest in their lives.

“What, then, must we do? ask the people of today, for John’s voice is still echoing across the ages, calling on us also to prepare for the coming of the Lord. We look forward to his coming, not simply and cosily into our private lives, but into a world which is populated by millions of people who are starving, or ravaged by HIV/Aids, or who are victims of war and terrorism, and of political and economic injustices, a world in which people are suffering already the dramatic consequences of climate change. Against such a background we may well ask, not so much “What must we do?” as “What can we do?”

John's answer to each group who came to him was clear, practical and adapted to the life-style of each. Principally, and the same for all, they must do what is just – and according to the Bible a basic requirement of justice consists in sharing. And so for us: accepting the good news of the Lord’s coming requires openness to the message. We may not have the political or economic power to change the world on any large scale. Yet, by what we ‘do’ or ‘fail to do’, in sharing with others our goods, our thoughtfulness, our time, our effort, or whatever, we ourselves and our world will be either more or less prepared for the coming of the Lord.