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13. December 2015


John the Baptist and Jesus

Text (Lk 3,10-18; see Mt. 3:1-12; Mk. 1:1-8)

Luke 3:10 ¶ When all the people asked John Baptist, ‘What must we do, then?’

Luke 3:11 he answered, ‘Anyone who has two tunics must share with the one who has none, and anyone with something to eat must do the same.’

Luke 3:12 There were tax collectors, too, who came for baptism, and these said to him, ‘Master, what must we do?’

Luke 3:13 He said to them, ‘Exact no more than the appointed rate.’

Luke 3:14 Some soldiers asked him in their turn, ‘What about us? What must we do?’ He said to them, ‘No intimidation! No extortion! Be content with your pay!’

Luke 3:15 ¶ A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to wonder whether John might be the Christ,

Luke 3:16 so John declared before them all, ‘I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, who is more powerful than me, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Luke 3:17 His winnowing-fan is in his hand, to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out.’

Luke 3:18 And he proclaimed the good news to the people with many other exhortations too.

Note on v. 11:  A person might wear two tunics to keep warm on a journey or in the open at night. Or the reference may be simply to the possession of two tunics.


John warned people that it was no use being baptized without a true willingness to turn from sin that was expressed in actions. Even for Jews repentance was necessary; their descent from Abraham was no defense against imminent judgment. They were no better than vipers, evil and destructive in character. Had somebody told them that they could escape judgment simply by being baptized (i.e. without repenting)? In fact the axe was already poised, ready to chop down unfruitful trees—but there was still a chance of repenting before it was too late (vs 7-9).

Luke indicates specifically how particular groups of people were to live. The crowds of ordinary people (poor people are obviously in mind) must show generosity to one another in their needs—a so–called ‘work of love’ that went beyond the minimal requirements of the law. Tax collectors and soldiers (who policed the country) were to act honestly and justly. John did not advocate a radical social upheaval, but insisted on moral principles that would lead to the transformation of society from within rather than by violent revolution (10-14).

Was John the Messiah?

Many people asked during John’s lifetime and later whether he was the Messiah. Whatever his followers thought, John knew his own position. One more powerful would come after him. This is John’s way of referring rather cryptically to the Messiah. John could only cleanse people with the sign of baptism by water, but the Coming One would purify people’s hearts with fire. This could be a symbol for final judgment (cf. v 17) or for the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5). John could then mean that the coming of the Messiah might be experienced as judgment or as purification and power. The Messiah would carry through a sharp separation among the people, like a harvester who preserves the wheat but destroys the chaff. Repentance, therefore, was urgently needed! (vs 15-17; cf. Jn. 1:19-34)

The good news

This message is summed up positively as good news (18). It was closely associated with the coming of Jesus, who was the more powerful one. But before he appears on the scene, John’s story is rounded off with his arrest for his outspoken preaching (cf. Mk. 6:17-29)—a deliberate hint of what would also happen to Jesus.


Suscipe (St. Ignatius of Loyola)

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,

my memory, my understanding

and my entire will,

All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.

To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.

Give me only your love and your grace.

That is enough for me.



When all the people asked John Baptist, ‘What must we do, then?’, he answered, ‘Anyone who has two tunics must share with the one who has none, and anyone with something to eat must do the same….’ So for the III. Advent we have choosen the activity: Sharing Love & Kindness (To be played with a minimum of four participants)

This activity empowers your child/youth with the knowledge that their words, choices and actions can have either positive or negative effects on himself/herself and others






Ask the participants to write one note each, expressing love and kindness on a piece of paper. It may be a statement or a question. Provide examples such as: You are nice. You have beautiful eyes. I like your smile. You have great ideas. How are you?

Once all participants have written at least one comment on their paper, have them stand up and form a big, open circle with the bowl in the middle. Have them crumple their papers into a tight ball.

Tell the children that when you say, “share,” they should put their balls of paper in the bowl, and when you say “receive,” they should pick a ball of paper from the bowl and read it silently. When you say “share” again, they should crumple up the ball of paper again and put it back in the bowl.

Repeat this 3-5 times, so that participants can read several notes. After the last time, ask volunteers to read the last message they received out loud.

At the end of the game you could ask your child why he/she thinks you played this game

Tip: Explain that sometimes we get back the very same things we send out and sometimes we don’t; we can’t predict exactly what will come back to us when we share.

Explain that we did this activity to discover that when we share, we get back what we are giving. It might not be the same thing we gave but we will always receive. It also might take some time or be from a different person, but it always comes back.

(Source of the Activity: