In this Gospel John says three things: First, we should share with those in need. Ours is a social Gospel. God does not look kindly upon the person who is content to have too much while others have too little. John the Baptist stands in the line of the prophets of old. And he prepares the way for the one who preached, "Store up for yourselves treasure in heaven where neither the Dow Jones corrodes, or Standard and Poor's Index rusts, or the Nasdaq steals." The Jewish/Christian covenant is based on helping those in need. And if you should say to me, the Pope should stay out of politics, I would remind you of two things: a man named Moses dealing with a leader named Pharoah, and a man named Jesus having a conversation with a governor named Pilate.
Secondly, John orders a person not to leave his job but to work out his salvation and grow his spirit by doing his job as it should be done. Let the tax collector be a fair and good tax collector, the soldier be a good soldier. Interesting, John doesn't say quit your job or take time off and make a month's retreat in the desert. He simply says stay at what you are doing but do it with respect for other people. Do your work with a sense of service. If you are a policeman, then protect and serve. If you are a teacher, then respect your students and they will respect you. If you work at Geico or at the base then respect the people with whom you work and give an honest day's work. If you are a stay at home mom or dad then God expects you to bloom where you are planted to find him in the faces of your family and fellow employees. If you are a health provider then see the people you serve not just as numbers but as human beings who seek your healing touch.
Third, John says look for the one coming after me. What did John expect? We don't know but what Jesus brought was unexpected. While John preached a message of turning from sin, so did Jesus, but Jesus also issued an invitation: Come follow me. John frightened, Jesus fascinated. John offered a reference to God through our sins. Jesus also dealt with sin, but offered a vision into a Father's heart, a heart filled with grace upon grace. John offered an axe laid to the root. Jesus offers a Holy Spirit that radicalizes us from within. John offers a destroying fire, a catastrophic action of God. Jesus baptizes us into a community of faith. Sometimes we suppose that some great religious experience will make all things new and everything will be permanently better, just as we think that some whirlwind of reform in political conditions will accomplish the same results. Throw the bums out of office and all will be well. But all is not well; the evil spirit, driven out by some spasmodic effort, will be back with seven spirits more evil than itself. The process of redemption, be it political or religious, must always be patient and gradual. The way of God's kingdom comes through many disappointments, some victories, which may be only partial, and defeats which must be temporarily endured. The kingdom comes through the way of the cross by those willing to respond to Jesus invitation: Come follow me.