From the Pastor's Desk
QUESTION OF THE WEEK:Knowing that God is in our midst, how can I answer the question from the Gospel: “What should I do?”
The Second Sunday of Advent challenges us to prepare a royal highway in our hearts for Jesus so that we may receive Him as our saving God during Christmas. We should also be prepared for Christ’s daily coming into our lives in the Holy Eucharist, in the Holy Bible and in the praying community. Finally, we are asked to be ready to meet Jesus as our Judge on His Second Coming, at the end of our lives and at the end of the world.
In the first reading, the prophet Baruch introduces Yahweh, the God of Israel, preparing the way for, and leading the Babylonian exiles to, Jerusalem. Hence, the prophet invites the weeping Jerusalem to rejoice and go to high places to watch the return of the exiles. Baruch’s prophecy announces the return of the whole human race to God. During this Advent season, we, too, are asked to return to the Lord from our slavery to sin.
Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 126) offers us a close-up of the exiles who had wept bitterly on leaving Jerusalem now returning home, rejoicing.
In the second reading, Paul advises the Philippian community members to prepare themselves for Christ’s Second Coming by practicing Christian love and by leading pure and blameless lives.
John the Baptist, in today’s Gospel, challenges the Jews to prepare their lives for receiving their long-awaited Messiah. They have to prepare a highway in their hearts for their Messiah by levelling the mountains of pride and valleys of impurity and injustice and omissions and by straightening their crooked ways. They are to get ready by repenting of their sins, renewing their lives, and expressing their repentance by receiving the baptism of repentance in River Jordan.
Life messages: #1: We need to prepare our hearts and lives for Jesus our Savior to be reborn in us during this Christmas time. We have to fill in the “valleys” of our souls, formed from our shallow prayer life and a minimalist way of living our Faith. We have to straighten out whatever crooked paths we’ve been walking, like involvement in some secret or habitual sins or in a sinful relationship. If we have been involved in some dishonest practices at work or at home, we are called to straighten them out and make restitution. If we have been harboring grudges or hatred, or failing to be reconciled with others, now is the time to clear away all the debris. As individuals, we might have to overcome deep-seated resentment, persistent fault-finding, unwillingness to forgive, dishonesty in our dealings with others, or a bullying attitude. And we all have to level the “mountains” of our pride and egocentrism by practicing the true humility of rendering humble service to others. #2: We need to repent and seek forgiveness from God and our fellow human beings: John's message calls us to confront and confess our sins. We need to turn away from them in sincere repentance and receive God's forgiveness.
Next, we need to forgive others who have offended us and ask forgiveness for our offenses. Jesus is very explicit about this in Matthew 6:14-15. He says, "For if you forgive men their transgressions, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions."
Join us on Tuesday (Dec.11) at 6:30.P.M to receive the forgiveness of God and be reconciled with one another to prepare for Jesus’ coming.