The way the Advent readings prepare us for Christmas seems like walking backwards. Last Sunday focused on the second coming of Jesus and this Sunday’s Gospel focuses on life and ministry of John the Baptist as he gets the people ready to welcome the Messiah any time he would appear. The oppressive political situation has heightened the desire for a savior. John warns them that any serious preparation would have to entail a preparation of the heart in a radically new way. That change of heart is symbolized by accepting to be baptized in order to have the sins forgiven.