(Violet) Cycle C/Year II (December 6, 2015)
Bar 5:1-9/Phil 1:4-6, 8-11/Lk 3:1-6

John the Baptist, as a prophet, was commissioned by God to proclaim the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, in preparation for the coming of the Messiah, the Son of God. With the message about preparation, John assured the people that the Messiah was coming. The message of John resembled the message of the prophet Isaiah: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” John prepared the way of the Messiah in a similar manner by which a courier of king would prepare the way of the king.

John proclaimed a baptism not only by words but also by deeds. He baptized many people who would like to renew their lives and live in accordance to the teachings of the bible. This baptism of John prepared the people to accept the Messiah and follow His teachings. Baptism then is important not only for the Jews but specially for us who accept Jesus in our lives. As Christians, all of us have been baptized and our baptism is the beginning of our faith in and relationship with Jesus. Baptism is the fundamental sacrament by which we begin our new life in Christ as temples of the Holy Spirit and children of God. Because of this importance, we encourage that as soon as possible the new born infant receives this sacrament which is the foundation of our life in the Church.

The baptism that John proclaimed was not the common baptism but a special one because its main purpose was the repentance of the people. Indeed, there can never be baptism without repentance because repentance is an essential part of baptism. But in this baptism of John, repentance took the central part of the sacrament simply because of the situation of the people who lived their life not in accordance to the will of God. Truly, repentance is necessary so that we can accept Jesus in our lives. Jesus, being the Son of God, is most holy and He can never be with us until we purify ourselves by turning away from our sins and fulfilling the will of God.

The baptism of repentance proclaimed by John was for the forgiveness of sins. The humanity sinned through the original sin of Adam and Eve and needed to be forgiven so that the heavens could be opened and the graces of God could flow from heaven to the earth. We are all sinners as human beings and we always need the forgiveness of God. For this reason, Jesus instituted the sacrament of Penance so that through the ministry of the priests, we can be forgiven by God of our sins. In preparation for the coming of Jesus this Christmas, we need to avail of this sacrament of forgiveness so as to become worthy to accept Jesus Christ in our lives.

John the Baptist proclaimed the baptism of repentance and prepared the way of the Messiah in the lives of the Jews. The Church continues to proclaim his message of repentance and forgiveness especially this advent season to make us realize the fact that Christmas can be properly celebrated only with contrite and clean hearts. Let us heed the call of repentance and avail of the sacrament of repentance so that this coming Christmas Jesus may be born in our hearts and that we may become real children of God.