Second Sunday of Advent
Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight
The Gospel tells us that God sent a man named John to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus. John told the people to make a highway in the desert for their God. He told them to make the crooked ways straight and to make the rough places smooth. John wasn't really talking about building a highway upon which Jesus could travel. He was really talking about the hearts of the people. He was calling people to prepare their hearts to receive Jesus so that he could walk among them and live with them.
Advent is a particular time of preparation for the reign of Jesus in our hearts, so we may welcome him with more devotion. St Paul points out that we never stop getting to know Jesus more deeply and for that we are required to become pure and blameless. I don’t know about you but I’m no angel, so we need sacramental help to fight against the inclination to sin that tradition calls concupiscence, which remains in the baptised. As the Catechism points out, “This is the struggle of conversion directed toward holiness and eternal life to which the Lord never ceases to call us.”
Jesus calls to conversion. This call is an essential part of the proclamation of the kingdom: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." And of course, the sacrament of penance is an essential aspect of our conversion and a fitting theme for Advent as we are called in this time to prepare our hearts for the coming of the Lord.
The Church is always in need of purification and follows constantly the path of penance and renewal. This endeavour of conversion is not just a human work. It is the movement of a "contrite heart," drawn and moved by grace to respond to the merciful love of God who loved us first.
Sin is before all else an offense against God, a rupture of communion with him. At the same time it damages communion with the Church. For this reason conversion entails both God's forgiveness and reconciliation with the Church, which are expressed and accomplished liturgically by the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.
Today we have heard the call to prepare a way for the Lord, to make his paths straight. I strongly advise every parishioner prepare their hearts through sacramental confession at least once a month. It is not only psychologically healthy, but it is an encounter with our living God who gives more grace in this sacrament than you could ever possibly realise.