This Sunday’s Gospel reading is Luke 3.7-18
John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance…
And the crowds asked him, ‘What then should we do?’ In reply he said to them, ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.’ Even tax-collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, ‘Teacher, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.’ Soldiers also asked him, ‘And we, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.’
There are two kinds of sin which John preaches about here. One is hardness of heart; the willingness to pass by with more than enough possessions while our neighbour has too little. The other is the abuse of power. The soldiers have more money than those around them, and are not to abuse their power by seeking more. Do those same sins affect our lives, perhaps in more subtle ways?
Advent is a time to ask how John’s words speak to us. Are we indifferent to our neighbour, or when they experience injustice, will we stand with them to resist it? And what about the power we wield in home and neighbourhood? Do we use it to build justice or injustice?
Pray for the Community Heroes celebrated on the Church Urban Fund website – and for the countless uncelebrated figures here and around the world who are inspired by the Gospel to work for social justice.