Advent Week 2: Gospel Reflection for December 8, 2019

Matthew 3:1-12

John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said:

A voice of one crying out in the desert,
Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.

John wore clothing made of camel’s hair and had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. At that time Jerusalem, all Judea, and the whole region around the Jordan were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins.

When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones. Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

The Gospel of the Lord

Sunday Gospel Reflection

Sunday, December 8, 2019

by Marilyn Pechillo, SNDdeN

Today’s gospel does not directly include Jesus’ teaching or healing. Instead, John the Baptist exhorts us to prepare the way of the Lord, a fitting message as we begin our liturgical preparation for Christmas. Neither John’s diet nor his message appeals to me. Frankly, I do not like locusts and wild honey, nor do I relish John’s call to repentance. Actually, I prefer a more comfortable gospel message.

This Advent, however, calls me to step out of my comfort zone and to live the gospel. Biblical scholars tell us that the word “repent” translates the Greek word, “metanoia,” which calls for a change of mind and heart. Changing my set ways of thinking and judging calls for a real conversion. I need to look differently at everyday situations and my staunchly held opinions. What would happen if I truly listened to someone whose views differ from mine or who simply rubs me the wrong way? When someone seems rough or inconsiderate, could I move from judging the person harshly to realizing the many factors that play into that response? In other words, this Advent can I change my mind and heart? Jesus did. He took on our humanity to save us. “Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness, and found human in appearance (Philippians 2: 6–7 USCCB).” Can I open myself to a greater care of others and of our earth? Can I welcome the stranger and reach out to someone who looks different from me? If I do these things, maybe I can skip the locusts and wild honey. If I change my mind and heart maybe I can truly welcome Christ this Christmas.

Meet Marilyn Pechillo, SNDdeN

Sr. Marilyn Pechillo grew up in Baltimore, MD and Stratford, CT. She met the SNDs in high school and entered Notre Dame in 1961. Sr. Marilyn studied Classics at Emmanuel College, Trinity in Hartford and Loyola University of Chicago. She taught in high school and college for many years, including several years at Trinity College (now Trinity University) in Washington, D.C. and two years at Loyola of Chicago’s Rome Center. Sr. Marilyn also served in province leadership.

In more recent years, Sr. Marilyn has worked in pastoral ministry with SNDdeNs and lay residents at Notre Dame Health Care in Worcester, where she served as Pastoral Care Associate and transition companion. She continues her ministry as an instructor in the Notre Dame Educational Bridge Center. Sr. Marilyn also serves on the US SNDdeN Anti-racism team.

Our thanks to the Congregational Mission Office of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, which publishes Gospel Reflections for Sundays and Feast Days.