*Alternate* Gospel: Luke 3:7-18

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.

John said to the crowds who came out to be baptized by him, “You pack of snakes! Who warned you to escape the wrath to come? Produce good fruit as a sign of your repentance. And don’t presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Sarah and Abraham as our mother and father,’ for I tell you that God can raise children for Sara and Abraham from these very stones. The ax is already laid at the root of the tree; every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be cut down and tossed into the fire.”

When the people asked him, “What should we to do?”  John replied, “Let the one with two coats give to the one who has none.  Those who have food should do the same.”

Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to John, “Teacher, what are we to do?”  John answered them, “Exact nothing over and above your fixed amount.”  Soldiers likewise asked.  “What about us?” John told them, “Do not bully anyone.  Denounce no one falsely. Be content with your pay.”

The people were full of anticipation, wondering in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah.  John answered them all by saying: “I am baptizing you in water, but there is one to come who is mightier than I.   I am not fit to loosen his sandal strap.  This one will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and in fire.  A winnowing fan is in his hand to clear the threshing floor and gather the wheat into the granary, but the chaff will be burnt in unquenchable fire.”  Using exhortations of this sort, John preached the good news to the people.

The Good News as spoken through Luke.

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