Sabrina Reyes-Peters

#AdventWord 2021: Repent

When John was proclaiming a message of repentance in the gospel according to Luke, paving the way for Jesus' ministry, the crowd asked what they should do. John tells them to distribute resources accordingly so that no one is in want. He tells tax collectors specifically not to collect any more money than they are supposed to, and tells soldiers to be honest and do the same. The message of the gospel here is all about money and resources (see the first part of Luke 3).

That's a really hard pill to swallow, for folks with a wealth of resources. I could list a number of other proof-texts about rich people and money that we like to ignore as a society entrenched in capitalist ways; one of my favorites is in the epistle of James:

"Pay attention, you wealthy people! Weep and moan over the miseries coming upon you. Your riches have rotted. Moths have destroyed your clothes. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you. It will eat your flesh like fire. Consider the treasure you have hoarded in the last days. Listen! Hear the cries of the wages of your field hands. These are the wages you stole from those who harvested your fields. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of heavenly forces. You have lived a self-satisfying life on this earth, a life of luxury. You have stuffed your hearts in preparation for the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who doesn’t oppose you."

I think to myself often, that it's no wonder certain rich, white people who call themselves Christians will interpret everything they can as a spiritual metaphor. Otherwise, they would have to repent of their hoarding and part with riches that are quite dear.

Winter is dark and cold. We know there is nothing inherently wrong with darkness, even though during Advent we like to focus on candlelight within the darkness and that light at the end of a tunnel. But if we move beyond Advent with our warmth and our light, while others remain in coldness, despair, and hunger, what good is that light?

Repentance, according to John the Baptist: if you have two shirts, give one to someone who needs it. If you have food to share, and someone is hungry, well, you know what to do. Redistribute the wealth, and change the system.