Today’s Reading: Matthew 3:1-6

1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”

4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair, and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

Today’s Commentary: Matthew 3:1-2

John the Baptist: The forerunner to the Messiah. A Levite (Lk 1:5) and relative of Jesus (Lk 1:36), John was considered a prophet by many Jews (21:26) and even by Jesus himself (11:9). His message was accompanied by an austere life of penance and self-denial (CCC 523).

— John’s clothing (3:4) recalls the OT prophet Elijah who “wore a garment of haircloth, with a belt of leather about his loins” (2 Kings 1:8). A figure like Elijah was expected to return before the Messiah (Mal 4:5) to begin restoring the tribes of Israel (Sir 48:10).

The voice of one crying: A quotation from Is 40:3. Isaiah’s oracle outlines John’s mission: he is the important figure who prepares the way of the Lord. All four Gospels connect Isaiah’s words with John’s ministry (Mk 1:3; Lk 3:4; Jn1:23). See note on Lk 3:4-6.