Friday of the Second Week of Advent
(Isaiah 48:17-19; Matthew 11:16-19)
Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s great novel The Brothers Karamazov imagines a contrast between two monks. Fr. Zosima is the hero’s hero who teaches Alyosha, the main character, how to love. He is a gentle, holy man who can enjoy the sweets the ladies from town brought him. Fr. Ferapont is a very ascetic monk who criticizes Zosima’s indulgent ways. The two form a rough contrast to Jesus and John the Baptist in today’s gospel.
Jesus is exhorting the crowds to change their ways. He is amazed at their stubbornness. He says that John the Baptist came fasting and doing penance as a way of freeing himself for the coming wrath of God, but the masses did not repent. Now Jesus has come demonstrating God’s mercy by partaking of the goodness of the earth, and the people still do not want to change their sinful ways. The only consolation Jesus offers the few who do repent is that their decision will be proved as wise in the future.
We too are called to convert. The Advent season is an opportune time to begin. We want to prepare for Jesus’ coming not so much with buying and partying but with a constant meditation on the benefit God becoming human brings to us.