The crowds asked John the Baptist,
“What should we do?”
He said to them in reply,
“Whoever has two cloaks
should share with the person who has none.
And whoever has food should do likewise.”
Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him,
“Teacher, what should we do?”
He answered them,
“Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.”
Soldiers also asked him,
“And what is it that we should do?”
He told them,
“Do not practice extortion,
do not falsely accuse anyone,
and be satisfied with your wages.”
Now the people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor
and to gather the wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Exhorting them in many other ways,
he preached good news to the people.
Pope Francis began this Jubilee Year of Mercy because, as he has stated, “mercy is the beating heart of the Gospel.” He states that the purpose of the year is to “reach everyone, both believers and those far away, as a sign that the kingdom of God is already present in our midst.” This is a profound statement because he is saying that mercy is for all humanity, not just those who are Christ’s disciples, and we are not a people waiting for a coming kingdom for the Kingdom of God is already in our midst.
When John the Baptist was speaking to his followers he spoke about showing mercy to others by giving away your second coat and not collecting more from anyone than what they owe you. But how much greater that mercy needs to be now that we live in a world redeemed by the power of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection! Certainly, the principles of stewardship can assist us in truly being fruitful in this jubilee year.
As good everyday stewards, we should not only see the second coat as something we should give away, but indeed the first coat is not truly ours as well. For it would not exist except for the generosity of our God. Since we are only stewards of all we have instead of owners, our ability to be generous greatly increases. We then begin to see that we have many tools at our disposal to offer mercy to those in need. This year we have the chance to really put into practice that which we claim to be true. As mature disciples we are to answer God’s call regardless of the cost. During this jubilee year may we now more than ever offer ourselves freely to do His will.