Editor's Note: During the Advent and Christmas season, Global Sisters Report is sharing Celebration's weekly "Scripture for Life" columns, commentary on the Sunday readings by sisters and others.
I wonder if Luke had tongue in cheek when he wrote the conclusion to his description of John the Baptist. Luke recounts John's less-than-diplomatic practice of calling his audience a bunch of snakes and his allegation that they were no more pious than a pile of rocks. He tells us that John demanded that people empty their closets for the poor and quit their most lucrative and self-aggrandizing practices. He went on to tell them that the world was about to be judged by its maker. Luke closes that extraordinary scene saying that all this was typical of how John preached the "good news."
From Luke's picture, it seems that although John made clear demands on everybody, the poor got the worst of it. John told them to give away every stitch of clothing they weren't wearing at the moment, along with any dessert they had saved for later. The others, tax collectors and soldiers, got away with being told to start being honest and stop acting like bullies. How was that good news?
Maybe John knew what he was doing. Perhaps he knew that the poor were used to the type of solidarity he demanded.