sexta-feira, 2 de junho de 2017


And with many other words
John exhorted the people
and proclaimed the good news to them.
Luke 3:18 (read 3.7-18) - NIV

Throughout history religious and secular prophets have seen and announced the consequences of reckless actions of human beings. Many of these prophets also presented ways to avoid the disasters resulting from such deeds. The pre-scientific world considered tragedies to be the direct actions of angry gods (Sounds like today’s fundamentalists). To appease their wrath people had to do something to please them.

Jewish prophecy was ethical, targeting the moral effects of unethical the behavior. John the Baptist, following that tradition, was the bearer of a message of warning of the disastrous effects of unethical human acts. God would pour out his wrath on the evil doers (not innocent bystandes). He preached a change of life (repentance) as the way to avoid God’s punishment. His preaching reminds us of the message of the prophet Jonah to the residents of Nineveh that the city would be destroyed because of the evil committed. But the people repented (changed their ways) and avoided the tragedy.

According to John the Baptist, the way to avoid the terrible punishment that God would send would be to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance”. That would be a change of life which would include the sharing of goods, non-exploitation of others and be content with what we have. That would avoid disaster and prepare the way for the arrival of a new order with the reign of a Christ in a new world of justice and peace.

After almost two millennia, the prophetic message is more urgent than ever before. Human greed, combined with high technology, not only undermines the social order, but also the ecological balance of the Earth. Also at stake is our relationship with all of creation: fauna, flora, air, water and soil. Now only ethical and social changes alone will not be sufficient, although these, too, are urgent. We need to adapt a new life style that will no longer consume more resources than Earth is able to produce.

What we have in common with John the Baptist is the urgency of change in lifestyle. Time is running out. Ecological and social analysts, based on research, are pointing out that humanity is mounting an unprecedented social and environmental disaster. Our socio-economic system is destroying the balance of nature and causing climate change which is starting to flood coastal areas. New high resistant viruses (ebola) are appearing and old diseases which had been almost eliminated are on the comeback in forms that are immune to present antibiotics.

The Kingdom is here on earth and depends on our participation to make it work. There will be no magic ark to carry us away if we fail. It is either survive together or perish together. We are preparing our own way and it depends on us which way that will be. The prophetic message is always a call for us to determine our own destiny. The good news is that we can change course.


John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

What should we do then?” the crowd asked.

John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”

Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.

Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”

He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.

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