Monday, December 08, 2008
This morning we are given words of assurance. In the book of Isaiah which is also considered the book of consolation because it was written during the time of exile, “Comfort, give comfort to my people” and in the book of the gospel, John the Baptist “proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” This is a season of much hope and more than ever as our world seems to be falling around us we know as we see the two of Advent candles alight that there is so much to hope for. The coming of the Messiah that we are about to celebrate in just over a couple of weeks away does bring us comfort. The comfort that we are assured are peace, love and joy and the best of them all is the forgiveness of sins.
As we prepare for the Christmas season, one of the many tasks that will entail will be cleaning our homes so that we can welcome our guests and make it a cozy environment for them because a messy house would be a huge distraction and might make our guests feel uncomfortable but if we just concern ourselves with cleaning house and not cleaning our souls than we need to get our priorities straighten out.
My brothers and sisters we need to realize that sins cannot be forgiven unless we acknowledge them and bring them before our God. During this season we need to stop in the midst of the hustle and bustle to ask ourselves what are some of the obstacles in our lives that prevent us from completely loving God? As Catholics we have the wonderful gift of the sacrament of reconciliation. I want to emphasize that yes it is a gift and not a burden. To truly come and open ourselves to God and be healed is the greatest thing we can experience on our spiritual journeys.
I should remind you my brothers and sisters that the sacrament of reconciliation isn’t considered an option but necessary for the soul as water is necessary for our physical well-being. I can guarantee you my brothers and sisters that none of us here are sinless. We all need to look deeper and really ask us the tough questions than we realize how weak we are and only by God’s grace can we stay strong.
Echoing the prophecy of Isaiah, St John tells us that "preparing the way of the Lord" means "making straight his paths." One of the things the ancient cities would do to get ready for the official visit of an important ruler was to fix the roads that he would use as he approached the city. This would make sure that the final stretch of his journey was pleasant, so that he would arrive in a good mood.
There are three roads that Jesus uses to enter the Jerusalem of our souls. First, the road of prayer. Advent is the perfect time of year to jumpstart our prayer life. So many times God is trying to give us guidance and light, but because we don't spend time in prayer, we haven't learned to recognize his voice, so we miss out.
In New York last spring Pope Benedict XVI pointed this out: "Have we perhaps lost something of the art of listening? "Do you leave space to hear God's whisper, calling you forth into goodness? "Friends, do not be afraid of silence or stillness, listen to God, adore him in the Eucharist. "Let his word shape your journey..."
Second, the sacraments. Sometimes in personal prayer we are unsure of God's presence, but in the sacraments Christ guarantees that he is truly present. During Advent we can spend time with Christ in the Eucharist, maybe going to daily Mass to receive Holy Communion more frequently, learning to listen and letting him teach us to follow him. A trip to confession as I mentioned earlier of it’s importance which here at St. Thomas the opportunity is available every Saturday afternoon, by appointment or a special time has been set a week from Tuesday, on December 16th at 7 p.m.
The third road Jesus uses to enter our hearts is the road of other people. Advent should be a time when we, as Christ's messengers, reach out to others, to those who don't know Christ, or those who are suffering. As we reach out to them, we too come closer to Christ.
Jesus is eagerly looking forward to Christmas, because he wants to make a fresh entrance into the Jerusalem of our souls, and fill us with his supernatural comfort. Holy Spirit come into our lives in a deeper way than you have ever done before. Send your cleansing fire, and make this Advent a time of deep renewal.