Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand
Throughout the first three weeks of Advent our focus is very clearly on the End of Time, and the Second Coming of the Lord – not on the run up to Christmas (that only comes in the last week). If we view Advent as a Season preparing for Christmas these readings will make little sense – and neither will the figure of John the Baptist who appears today: if it was about the preparation for Christmas, then John the Baptist, preaching after Jesus was born, becomes a confusing figure: his role is to preach to us, as he did of old, and to prepare us for the (second) coming of the Lord. Everything gets more specific today: what is being preached is not an event, but a person: Isaiah promises him, John welcomes him, Paul invites us to imitate him. We have here a thumbnail portrait of the Messiah – useful to refer to when we get to Christmas and he is revealed as a child in a manger!
O God, give your judgement to the king, to a king’s son your justice,
That he may judge your people in justice and your poor in right judgement.
In his days justice shall flourish and peace till the moon fails.
He shall rule from sea to sea, from the Great River to earth’s bounds.
For he shall save the poor when they cry and the needy who are helpless.
He will have pity on the weak and save the lives of the poor.
May his name be blessed for ever and endure like the sun.
Every tribe shall be blessed in him, all nations bless his name