Vipers Bearing Fruit


“You brood of Vipers!” John the Baptist warns.  We are used to John applying that appalling appellations to the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for his baptism.  Yeah, stick it to them, John.  That’s the way it reads in Matthew’s Gospel. Those hypocrites, those whitewashed tombs, those blind guides straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel. Those shouters of “Crucify him, crucify him.”  Yeah John give it to those poisonous snakes and give it to them good.

However, before we get too worked up, this is what we read in Luke last Sunday.  “He said to the CROWDS that came out to be baptized by him.”  Me, a venomous snake?  Now you’re getting personal, John.  What have I ever done to you?  Do I present myself as better than I am on the inside?  Do I major in unimportant things and overlook major issues?  Was I there when they asked for Barabbas?  Was I in the crowd that shouted, “Crucify him, crucify him?” I don’t like to admit it, but I was there.

John has a simple suggestion.  “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance.”   “What sort of fruit is Advent fruit?”  John says, if you see someone who needs clothing or food, give them some.  If you have a job, give an honest day’s work.  Don’t over charge for your services.  If you are a person in authority don’t makes, don’t lord your power over other people.  Finally, be content.

WE also heard St. Paul saying, “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”  God is working good in us and for us continually.  Filled with Christi’s righteousness we are certain to be filled with fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ.

As we read in Psalm 66:  “Come and see what God has done.”  In the context of John’s sermon we are called to live in such a way that we are able to invite people to say of us, “Come and see what God has done, he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of men.

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