No, I did not make a mistake, at least not with this title; it was not a victim of autocorrect.  The Baptist certainly was and is one whose intent is to disturb us, to jar us out of our “comfortability” this time of year and all year. John rather abruptly reminds us that our Gospel is one with a social conscience. For him and for Jesus it is not merely a question of God and me but rather God, me, and others. This is especially so when the others are in need.  John is indeed very explicit about the way he answers the three questions put to him in today’s Gospel passage. In answer to the question of his audience, he says: "If anyone has two overcoats, he must share with the man who has none, and the one with an extra loaf of bread must do the same." John the Disturber commands them and us to give out of our surplus to those who do not have.  To the tax collectors he says that they must not take more than the fair share from anyone and he commands the soldiers against practicing, extortion, falsely accusing anyone and grumbling about their wages.  John basically gives us the flip side of the same coin that St. Paul gives to the Philippians when he said, “Let your generosity be manifest to all.”  Both of these men, spoke on behalf of our social consciousness and they are determined to not let us become complacent in the service of justice or extending a hand to those in need- and without judging why that is the case. John reminds us that the message of Advent is designed to give a bit of jolt to one's spiritual nervous system. It is true that Jesus cannot be born again, but we can be. And that really is what Advent is all about. It is actually a very demanding season in which John the Disturber helps us to see that we give birth to our best selves once again.

AuthorCathy Remick