There’s one individual, one image that sums up Advent. He’s standing in a river and he’s got a very simple and direct message, “repent.”
For me, there’s a lot going on with “repent,” especially when I add my “personal touch” to it - making sure that I feel bad about myself, and begrudgingly changing my ways (if at all). But my version of repenting isn’t what John’s talking about. Sunday’s Old Testament reading (Isaiah) shows us that John is talking about God’s version of repenting, and it couldn’t be more different.
Sunday’s Gospel (John) tells us that John was sent from God. Which explains why he has such an impact, and why he’s getting a lot of questions about who he is, from people who were waiting for a sign.
And when that sign comes to them in the form of John, they have trouble believing it. When they ask him who he is, his answer makes it clear that he is exactly who they were waiting for - and not at all who they were expecting.
Readings for Sunday: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/121414.cfm