Now in the 2nd Sunday of Advent, we remember that “Advent” means, “He comes”. Our God comes to us. Isaiah prophesied to us hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus about the coming of the Messiah:
On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him ….”
Jesse was the father of King David. Jesus was the great, great grandson of David, of the line of King David, born almost 1,000 years after David.
John the Baptist saw the Holy Spirit descend upon Jesus at his baptism. Who was John the Baptist?
John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said:
“A voice of one crying out in the desert, prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”
John came ahead of Jesus to prepare the way for the Messiah. John preached repentance of sins. This is the message of Advent. We are not ready for Jesus if we have not first repented of our sins.
This coming Friday, December 9th at 7pm, we will have a parish reconciliation service. Those who wish to repent of their sins and receive absolution of their sins may come that evening. We will have more than ten priests here ready to hear your confessions.
However, a good confession requires you to examine your conscience. It does you no good to come into the Confessional if you have not examined your life from a moral perspective, and determined whether or not you need to repent and ask the Lord for forgiveness. All too often, we receive people in the Confessional who appear to have not spent any time in personal examination of their behavior or their relationship to God and those around them.
John quoted Isaiah, saying,
“… prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths ….”
Have you ever driven down a country road and then turned off onto an unpaved road? You notice right away that the road is bumpy. You cannot go straight. You have to slow down because there are many ruts in the road. If the road had been graded, the path would have been smooth and straight. Before you confess, smooth out the road. Find the bumps. Examine your life and repent. Then, make a good confession.
Many of our parishioners apparently have not been to confession in years. I urge you, if that is the case, please go to Confession.
The Church teaches us to go to Confession at least once per year. But that is a minimum! It is actually better to go to Confession more frequently. If you have not been to Confession in over a year, please, for your own good, stop going to Holy Communion. Go to Confession and then return to the Communion line. If you have missed Mass, go to Confession. Examine your conscience, repent and go to Confession.
People ask me how often to confess. That is a personal decision. I try to go once every month or two.
Priests know almost immediately if a person does not go to Confession frequently. How do we know? It is obvious when a person doesn’t know himself or herself very well. They are not in the habit of personal examination. They may say, “Well Father, I don’t have any sin. I haven’t killed any one, or stolen.” In truth, they are not looking very closely. I often recommend to these people to start going to Confession every month just to get back into the habit of examining their conscience. People who confess frequently generally know themselves much better.
To prepare for Jesus’ coming, John taught repentance. John’s baptism was not our baptism. John’s baptism was a sign of repentance. In Advent we prepare.
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”