03 December 2016


isaiah 11:1-10; romans 15:4-9; matthew 3:1-12

in 1981, plastic surgeon karl stein did a few free tattoo removals for former street gang members in los angeles. it prompted several hundreds of young people to approach the surgeon, and led to a documentary on tattoo removal. 
the documentary features young people who share the reasons they got tattoos, the problems their tattoos caused, and why they now want the tattoos removed. it also highlights the dangers of amateur tattooing and the difficulties in removing tattoos. the title of the documentary: «un-tattoo you»!

the story behind the film illustrates an important reality: all of us have done things in our past that we regret and would like to erase: poor decisions, unkind words, wrong acts… it’s part of being human, and sometimes we wish we had an un-tattoo program.

advent offers us an «un-tattoo you» time and program... summarised in the call of john the baptist: «repent… make straight his paths». 

repentance is removing the tattoos, erasing the marks of sin. it is turning away from sin (whatever breaks my relationship with GOD, others, myself and nature) and turning to GOD. it is moving from selfishness to selflessness, from defending oneself to donating oneself.
our ancestry, religious affiliation, social status («do not presume to say… ‘we have abraham as our father.’») do not matter. what matters is bearing good fruit; we ought to live justly, in harmony with one another and in total dependence on GOD.
when we repent, we collaborate with GOD in the realization of the ideal realm (which isaiah foretold in the first reading) and of the kingdom of heaven (which JESUS brings and where justice, peace and harmony reign).

what «tattoos» do i need to remove? how can i foster peace - justice - harmony… and so collaborate in the realization of the kingdom?
«peace (and justice) on earth to people of goodwill» is not just the song of the angels; it ought to become a program of life for me, my family/community and my church.