On this Second Sunday of Advent, John the Baptist reminds us to be attentive and vigilant. Our redemption is near at hand and we don’t want to miss it. John proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. This advice remains appropriate for us today as we prepare for the coming of the Lord. John was not talking about the Sacrament of Baptism, but the ceremony of walking into the Jordan River and taking a bath, that is, washing away the grime that has collected in our thoughts and feelings, our values and attitudes, our desires and decisions. This is not a quick cure or an overnight miracle. John affirms that we need to be repentant, which means more than just feeling regretful for past sins. Repentance means a hard-hitting determination to change our life patterns by a deep conversion of heart.
As we prepare for Christmas, we are invited to make low any mountains of arrogance or pride, to fill in any valleys of fear and disbelief, to make straight any twisted thoughts or attitudes. All roughness in us that causes people harm or wounds others is to be made smooth. This is how we open ourselves to the presence of Christ today. His saving power and caring presence Jesus healed the sick and helped the weak and forgave the sinner. Jesus generously gives us that same hope and life today as we open our minds and hearts to him.
As the priest lights the second Advent Candle, call to mind that Jesus is the light of the world who comes into the darkness of our lives to bring newness, life and hope. We are to also remind ourselves that we are called to be a light to the world as we reflect the light of God’s grace to others. In this way we become another John the Baptist today. Each of us has a mission to communicate the Spirit of Christ to others, to be a message of hope, love, peace and forgiveness…to help others fill their valleys and make their rough paths smoother.
We pray with St. Paul in today’s second reading: “May [my] love increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that [I] may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ…” May nothing hinder your progress till the day when Christ comes.
Father Don Webber, C.P., resides in Chicago.