By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
Pope Francis drew inspiration for his Angelus reflection from St John the Baptizer as presented in the Gospel of Luke on the Second Sunday of Advent. The Baptizer, the Pope said, teaches us that conversion is the way to wait for the Lord’s coming.
Guide for conversion
Pope Francis called John the Baptizer “a guide” for our conversion journey. Luke’s Gospel presents him going throughout the “region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:3). Luke understands that John was the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy of paths being made straight, valleys filled in and mountains being brought low.
Valleys and hills
Pope Francis explained that the Baptizer’s call is essentially the awareness of “the need of conversion”. It is the valley of coldness and indifference that we need to fill in by “opening ourselves to others” like Jesus did, being attentive to our neighbour’s needs. It is the mountain of “pride and haughtiness” that needs to be brought low. This is done, the Pope said, through “concrete gestures of reconciliation with our brothers and sisters, asking forgiveness for our faults”. Conversion is only complete, he said, with the “humble recognition of our errors, infidelities, and failures”.
Awaiting the Messiah
John the Baptizer’s invitation to conversion was strong, vigorous and severe, yet tempered by actions that communicated tenderness and pardon. Thus he reawakened the expectation for the Messiah in the multitudes of people who came to him for his baptism of repentance. The believer lives with Jesus at the centre of their lives, Pope Francis continued. With “His word of light, love and consolation” we who are Jesus’ disciples today “are called to be his humble and courageous witnesses to rekindle hope, to make it understood that, notwithstanding everything, the kingdom of God continues to be built day by day by the power of the Holy Spirit”.