“Change” – that was the key word of the present US President in his election. In a recent ceremony of receiving his Nobel Prize his words were still pointing to the change, which is not ye happened. But only because of his readiness to accept the change he made himself popular and acceptable.

Today’s Gospel leads us to a change, a radical life change. Obama’s change was merely politically aimed. But John the Baptist has the vision of a complete change – both material and spiritual. And may be because of his bold and direct style, I like John the Baptist very much. He was such a great person stood for Justice and divine law. He could misuse the present “pious emotions” of the people then, but he accepted he is not the messiah but someone who goes before him. He is not unhappy with that role, I think. Even to prepare the way of the Messiah is still a great Role. John hand over this feeling to his listeners today.

He proclaims the joy in accepting what one is in his or her life;
He proclaims this joy is happening through a radical change of life. And they are willing to accept this new teaching – this new baptism: the baptism of Joy and change to purity of life.

So they ask what I shall do.

The question is repeated by 3 various groups of people today.

Normal “people”, Tax collectors and soldiers are they.

They are in a way representing our world itself.

John answers them according to their lifestyle. John proves to be a good spiritual adviser. He knew what they really want.
He knew what they really lack.
His Advice is very specific. To the normal people he says to share mantles with those who have nothing. Mantle symbolizes their extra safety. It was normal for Jews to wear a mantle over their dress. But John points; there are people, who are not having the minimum clothing. In this contrast wearing an extra mantle becomes a sin. He pushes them to share it.

Yes we assimilate extra safety for our lives in several ways. How many of us are ready to share some of our earnings?

The second group is tax collectors. They were people, who were collecting tax for the Romans as per law. But they made them unacceptable, as they prolonged for extra taxes and money. This was a violation of the law. Moreover through their greed for money they made the life of common people harder. John’s tip to this is group not to collect over tax. He wants them to do their duty. But he prohibits them to collect more. Money makes many blind. It erases and eradicates the human contacts from our sight. Every thing is money for them. John asks them to look humans other than money. He advises them to live according to the law.

How much damage we are experiencing through the over power of money in our world, society, in the church, in our families…

The soldiers are the third group John addresses. His advice to them is to deal justly. John accepts and demands their duty for the safety of the country and people. But oft this turns to brutality and plundering. John’s proclamations touch them. So they come to him and seek his guidance.
Power is another evil that controls our world. It is good, when it is in safer hands. But when men live for power and position, wars happens; violence emerges.

John’s tips in this gospel passage are very apt in our world too.

Power, Money and Humanity: All these three dimensions are very much necessary in our modern world.

We keep watch for a king. A King showed us how we can use these three aspects positively. Jesus the King, who showed his humanity; who shared his life itself; who lived as a poor man and never used his power for his fame and reputation and gratification.

Let us wait and hope for a world that is free from sins and corruption.

A world that respects each other and protects his brothers and sisters.

Let us practice this in our life; for this kingdom of Joy.

Gandhi says: there are enough sources in our world to make humans happy. But not enough matter to quench their greed.

“Do small things but with great love” (Mother Teresa).

– Fr Thomas Kalathil

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