When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance." // Matthew 3:7-8
Two things come to my mind when I read Matthew’s Gospel:
1. I don’t think I would’ve given Saint John the Baptist the time of day simply because of how he dressed or how he called people out.
2. I fear boldly proclaiming the truth like Saint John.
This might come as a surprise since I don’t necessarily beat around the bush with my words. However, when it comes to praying in front of a Planned Parenthood, posting something about my Catholic beliefs on social media, or sharing the truth so someone can avoid or repent from sin, I often go silent. I fear being rejected and how I will be perceived.
There is a massive difference between Saint John and me, I mean, besides our fashion choices. John sees the urgency behind calling people to repent for the sake of their salvation, and I worry about how someone will attack me and my beliefs. John’s desire for the Pharisees and Sadducees to repent and believe in the Gospel was as important to him as each person who came to him for baptism. I probably wouldn’t have called them a “brood of vipers” in hopes that they would repent and be baptized. I evangelize by building relationships that lead to speaking the truth rather than calling someone an offensive name. However, his urgency and words had a purpose. Salvation was at hand, and he had to prepare the way to Christ!
As bold and audacious as John was, he also showed great humility, and humility is the answer we need to share truth without fear. When John says he is baptizing with water for repentance, but the One coming after him is mightier and will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire, he reminds us, in all humility, that passionately shared truth is an introduction to Christ’s love and mercy. Some will accept that introduction and be led to Him. Others will reject that introduction and walk away.
Sharing the truth may result in people walking away from you, but the sad truth is they are walking away from God. Rejection of God should break our hearts. It’s a rejection more severe than any perceived judgment we will ever feel on earth. This awareness should cause us to pray harder, speak the truth with humility and love, and not fear rejection or judgment from others.