John the Baptist has always been the “Voice of Advent”. Because Advent is a time of waiting, the Church once again calls our attention to listen to the words of John the Baptist and embrace his message with expectant joy.
His message was “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” The core of John’s prophetic cry was metanoia or conversion! The word metanoia comes from Greek words meta (beyond) and nous (mind). Metanoia is not just the complete turnabout of one’s mind but going beyond one’s self in its desire to meet God. It is the breaking away from the imposed self-enclosure in order to welcome new life. True conversion is turning away from false existence to true way of living, from selfishness to selflessness, from emptiness to fullness, from separateness to communion. It is the experience of total make-over of oneself both in the preparation before and after encountering Christ. We all have the tendency to draw the world to ourselves and to make the world revolve around our selfishness in celebration of egoism. Before, during and after the world has heard the voice of John the Baptist, the messianic longing remains not just among the Jews but in the heart of humanity. But only those who are willing to break away from the slavery of selfishness are able to encounter Christ in his many creative comings. If we really want this to happen, then the words of St. John the Baptist pose a real challenge. That is why if we take to heart seriously his message, it demands a dying to one’s self. It may mean breaking away from a particular addiction that continuous to enslave us or getting away from a sinful lifestyle that stifles us. When we are able to do it, we clothe ourselves with purple during this time of waiting. We don’t just see purple as a liturgical colour in our churches, it is something we put on to symbolise a deeper reality that is waiting to emerge.
Beneath the repentant purple of Advent is the white Christmas awaiting to be born only if we endure the angst of separation and the pain of birthing. What we are awaiting for is not just the celebration of Christ’s birth but also our emergence into the children of God. The voice of John the Baptist shatters that false identity towards our eternal generation together with the Son, making us adopted children of the Father. Let his message shatter the chains of our hearts so that we might breathe again with fresh hope and celebrate life always with joyful expectancy.