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A reflection for Advent: The kingdom of heaven is near

What in our lives need to be carried away by God’s merciful winds this Advent?

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In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matthew 3:1)

John the Baptist takes center stage in the second week of Advent. In the last four lines of today’s Gospel (Matthew 3:1–12), John the Baptist announces that Jesus will come soon with “his winnowing fan in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Although today we are more familiar with coffee filters and spam filters than we are with winnowing fans, this image would be familiar to first-century people. When the harvest comes, the wheat needs to be separated from the straw husks or chaff that still clings to the grains. A good way of removing the chaff is to use a winnowing fan to scoop up and toss the grains in the air. The wind carries away the lighter chaff, and like dust it blows away with weevils and other pests. The heavier, good grain than falls to the floor.

What a great image for us to ponder in trying to live good lives. What in our lives need to be carried away by God’s merciful winds this Advent? What modern-day prophets are we listening to in order to discern this?

Written by Claretian Father John Molyneux, the editor-in-chief of U.S. Catholic.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016