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.” (Lk 3:10-14)
It seems that one of the things that marks us as human beings is our extreme dissatisfaction with our state in life. From the time we are very young, we never appear to have enough. If you have ever watched a baby eat, you can see the baby’s eyes darting about. If more food appears in the area, that food better make its way to the baby’s plate.
When you watch children playing with toys, you can see the positioning that often takes place so that a child is ensured of having as many toys as possible. The child may be playing with ten different toys already but if another one appears, the child will go after it so that no one else can have it.
That “need” to grab possessions follows us through all the stages and ages of our lives. We can never seem to have enough.
John the Baptist addressed that in today’s Gospel. When people came up to him to ask him what they needed to do in order to respond to his teaching and to prepare for the coming of the Lord, he stated, in effect, “Quit hoarding. Quit grabbing for more. Be content with what you have.” The one who had more cloaks than needed was challenged to share. The one who collected more than what was required in order to skim the profits was challenged to quit cheating. And the one who forcibly took more was challenged to be content with the wage agreed upon.
Would not our world be so much easier if it would heed that advice? Instead of living in a greedy, grasping, contentious world, we could be living in a world that looked after one another’s needs and did all that it could do to ensure that everyone’s needs were supplied.
It is not too late. We can change the patterns and turn back the tides. Quit hoarding. Quit grabbing for more. Be content with what God has given you. Make sure others have their needs fulfilled.
Then, sit back and watch the Kingdom of God flourish!
FAITH ACTION: Do you know someone in need? Help that person this day. If you do not know anyone in need, give to an organization — St. Vincent de Paul, a local food pantry, the Salvation Army, et cetera — who can pass your bounty on to the needy.