2nd Advent (Note & Bulletin)

In our readings this Sunday it seems as if we have two sets of readings, each pointing to something different.  One the one hand, we have the 1st and 2nd Readings and the Responsorial Psalm in which the word joy is mentioned in each.  The Prophet Isaiah writes, “God will lead Israel with joy.”  The Responsorial Psalm says, “The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.” And St Paul confesses that he prays “with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you.”  On the other hand, in the Gospel, we have St John the Baptist, who proclaims a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  When we think of repentance, we don’t necessarily think of joy.  But without a doubt, the two are joined.  

Of all the sacraments that we often participate in, the one we least look forward to, and the one we have the most anxiety about, and maybe even dread, is the sacrament of Reconciliation – Confession.  It is this sacrament that most clearly echoes John the Baptist’s call to repentance. In my own life of faith, I often drag my feet about going to Confession.  I put it off because I’m embarrassed.  I wonder what the priest will think of me if I tell him what I’ve done, said or thought.  I’m tempted by a voice that says, “Better to keep things as they are.  Keep pretending so that everyone can keep thinking well of you.”  The mistake I make with Confession and repentance is that I think it’s about my sinfulness— I think it’s about the thought, words, and actions that I’ve done that I wish I hadn’t.  The Sacrament, and repentance is not about our sinfulness, rather, it is about the faithful and merciful love of the Father.  This means that the moment I think a judgmental thought about another, if I am speaking a harmful word or doing a harmful action, the love of the Father is being poured fully into my heart.  And when I confess or repent I am proclaiming that more than anything I believe in the love of God in my life.  And when we believe in the love of God in our lives, without our having to think of it or having to force ourselves, we become a people of joy.  Joy, in a way, is how love breathes and speaks.  So in Advent, as we remember the Lord’s first coming and wait for the Lord’s return in glory, we prepare by repenting.  And when we repent we are not saying how bad we are, but instead how precious and beautiful we are.  For God has said so, and so, it must be true.  Let joy be sound of our words.  Let joy be the expression of our actions.  For we are joyful because we are loved—because we are loved by a love that knows no limits, that will not stop.  

God Bless and Take Care!

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