The Call to Repentance

Today's Gospel reading: Matthew 3:1-12

The main theme of John's preaching is the coming of the kingdom of God … and repentance in view of its approach.  Repentance is much more than simply realizing and accepting the fact that you are a sinner … it means a turning back to God in obedience.  It’s not just a change of mind … but also a change of heart and life.

The coming King is also the Judge. Jesus strongly states the axe of judgment is even now ready to cut down any tree that does not bear good fruit.  The Jews who come out to hear John's preaching are not to take false comfort in there “Jewishness” … in their racial connection with father Abraham.  The Judge will be especially hard on the religious leaders who boast of their genealogy and piety, but whose lives show no righteousness.

True repentance will show itself in deeds.  Thus, John gives to the rich, to the tax collectors and to the soldiers - and to you and I - examples of the behavior which is the mark of true repentance.

Prayer: Almighty God, be merciful to me, a sinner.  Burn my chaff, but quench my sinful passions in the daily washing of Holy Baptism.  Amen.