Have you ever been to a concert when the opening band comes out and you’re surprised how good they are? In spite of the fact that you’re really looking forward to the headliner you actually enjoy the performance. They finish their short show and then there is a changeover on the stage as anticipation builds. The lights dim. The audience roars in expectation. Finally the star of the show comes out and somehow the crowd gets even louder! While the volume might not have been there we see this kind of process happening in this week’s Gospel:
The crowds asked John the Baptist, “What should we do?” He said to them in reply, “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He answered them, “Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.” Soldiers also asked him, “And what is it that we should do?” He told them, “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.”
Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ. John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 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 with unquenchable fire.” Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people. Luke 3:10-18
“One mightier than I is coming…” John acknowledges that as the opening act, he is pretty important. This actually allows him to build even more excitement in the people. We can see by their questions that he has their attention and they even speculate that John might be the One!
Here in Advent we expect the coming of the One, The Headliner, The Main Attraction! Filled with expectation we should ask ourselves, “What should we do?” John’s practical answers to his audience's questions point out that we should give of ourselves, our clothes and our food. We should also live mercifully and honorably and as this third week of Advent reminds us, joyfully! When we do, we can anticipate that when the headliner comes He will be just as happy to see us!