The Perspective of Justice
Today’s Gospel shows John the Baptist clashing with the Jewish religious authorities. We are told that the Pharisees and Sadducees were stepping forward to be baptized by John.
These people “did not believe him” (Mt 21:32), but they came forward anyway, boasting of the claim that “Abraham is our father.” John recognized them for what they were, people of privilege
Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance,” he told them (Mt 3:8). He did not object to their coming forward; he objected to their lack of concern for real change in society.
In his brief discourse to the Pharisees and Sadducees, John described the action that was taking place: “Even now the ax is laid to the root of the tree (Mt 3:10).” Every tree that is not fruitful will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
John’s message was about justice, about social change. He challenged the people of Israel to get down to the root causes of problems, to uproot unfruitful trees.
The changes that are called for in Advent are fundamental and far-reaching; they are structural. In this new church year, we are challenged to work for a better society, different from the one we now have.
The uniqueness of the Christian message does not so much consist in the affirmation of the necessity for structural change, as it does in the insistence on the conversion of people which will in turn bring about this change.
We will not have a new continent without new and reformed structures, but, above all, there will be no new continent without new people, who know how to be truly free and responsible according to the light of the Gospel.
Bishops of Latin America,
Now published in book form, To Love and Serve: Lectionary Based Meditations, by Gerald Darring This entire three year cycle is available at Amazon.com.
**From Saint Louis University