“What should we do?” John the Baptist is asked repeatedly in today’s Gospel (Luke 3:10, 12, 14). John responds with incredibly practical advice. Tax collectors, stop selfishly overcharging others. Soldiers, act justly and honestly. Everyone, give your spare cloak to someone without one. Ditto with your food. In other words, give what you have to your neighbor – your respect, your kindness, your material goods. In doing so, joy is spread. What better way do we have to prepare for Christ’s coming? Truly, it’s better to give than to receive. For when we give to someone in need, something that means more to them than it does to us, we share in the power of Christ’s salvific mission. For centuries people had been waiting for the Christ, the Messiah, so when John emerged from the desert quoting Isaiah, proclaiming “Prepare the way of the Lord” (Luke 3:4), they wondered if John was that man. No, he tells them, using the greatest contrast he can think of, telling them that relative to Jesus he is lower than the lowest servant, for only a non-Jewish servant was obligated to loosen the master’s sandals. John’s words foreshadow the reversal we see at the Last Supper, when Jesus not only loosens his disciples’ sandals, but washes their dusty feet and tells them to do the same. We too are called to give of ourselves to others, to make our kindness known to all, as Paul says in the second reading, especially to those who have none, be it material things or social stature. Spread the joy. This is a dominant theme in scripture today, with calls to shout it, sing it, cry out with it, making it known to all. But what good is it just to let others know that you’re joyful? John the Baptist calls us to share what we have with those who have not. This goes for our joy as well. In doing so we spread joy, giving the joy we know in the Lord. Preparing the way of the Lord by serving others gives everyone joy. Amen. (Casey, Most Reverend Robert G. Pastoral Patterns. World Library Publication, 2021).