Second Sunday of Advent
Repentance brings hope to the dry and seemingly barren areas of our life, the desert. We get discouraged and weak by our sins and short comings. When the Lord enters these places we become strong. In the desert you feel abandoned and alone with no hope. But the Lord will come and feed you with his manna, the bread of angels, and make you strong again. This only comes through humility and prayer. We make straight his paths by saying “You must increase, I must decrease.”
John’s penitential life reveals his sincerity; he practices what he preaches. He detest sin and desire to please God, who is worthy of all our love. He offers up his body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, his spiritual worship. He wore clothing made of camel’s hair and had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. Knowing and confessing our sins is a grace. “God’s greatest pleasure is to pardon us. The good Lord is more eager to pardon a repentant sinner than a mother to rescue her child from a fire” (Saint John Vianney). Repentance brings hope to the dry and barren areas of our life.
You must always come in the true spirit of repentance not in a public show of self-righteousness as the Pharisees and Sadducees are coming to John’s baptism? John is encouraging them to receive this Sacrament with the right disposition. Our confidence in every sacrament arises from faith in Christ’s power. It is Christ’s power that makes us strong and gives us strength when we are alone in the desert. Even if we fall Jesus does not abandon us: humility and contrition keeps us firm in God’s love.
John’s baptism inspired repentance and merely pointed to Christ’s baptism—the Church’s baptism—which, by the power of the Holy Spirit, forgives sins and fills us with divine life. Jesus frees us from sin, purifying our hearts so we can become like the pure wheat consecrated on the altar. He “bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you may come to share in the divine nature, after escaping from the corruption that is in the world” (2Pt 1:4). We must become like a desert and empty ourselves of all our sins so He can come into our lives and make them whole again.
Deacon Peter Smith serves at St. Mary’s/Holy Family Parish in Alabama, a religion teacher at Holy Family Cristo Rey Catholic High School in Birmingham, and a member of our extended Passionist Family.