Is 11:1-10; Rom 15:4-9; Matt 3:1-12
When big events are approaching, people start worrying about a lot of things and how to prepare for them, not the least of which is what they will wear.
Many of us are already engrossed in the preparation for Christmas. A good number have sent out their Christmas cards and Christmas shopping is already in full swing. Others are engrossed on deciding what gifts to give while children are busy deciding what they want to get from their godparents. Many of us have an excitement as we look forward to the Big Day.
The trouble, it seems, is that our modern society has commercialized Christmas so that we have mistaken the icings from the cake, the accidents from the substance. Somebody once made this strange proposal: “Christmas should be abolished because it only makes the poor suffer more. The season only dramatizes the sharp contrast between those who can do shopping spree and those who have virtually nothing.”
Anyway, we should not also be puritanical, however, as to brush aside the external trappings: those decors, gifts, eats and drinks. If we brush them out, the spirit surrounding Christmas would be lost. But let us always be aware that there is always the danger of losing the right perspective. Hence, we need to constantly remind ourselves to ‘Keep Christ on Christmas.’
Another truth is that Christmas is a religious event. We are celebrating the birth of our Savior who came down centuries ago. Think about it. The Child for whose birth we’re all rejoicing came as the least of men, poor and simple. He would never be able to afford our glittery and Imeldific celebrations! In this case, we overlook in the flurry of preparations, the internal preparation on our part. Let us be ready to share some of our blessings this Christmas that would cheers and somehow alleviate the harsh condition of our less fortunate brothers and sisters.
That is why, in today’s gospel, it instructs us to prepare in the true spirit, that is, inwardly by which John the Baptist beautifully announces: “Reform your lives, the Kingdom of God is at hand.” The Christmas carols Joy To The World puts it beautifully: “Let every heart prepare Him room.”
This is a big event, the coming of God’s Kingdom. Indeed, it is the big event of world history. But John does not worry about his outfit or what he will eat or even about his popularity with the leaders of the Jews. John does not worry at all. He simply gets ready for the coming of the Lord. And as God’s messenger, he warns the rest of the people to get ready too. To prepare for the very Son of God will enter human history not dressed in silken pajamas or sleeping in an air-conditioned room or sleep in a mattress, but dress in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
Advent is a time for preparation. It is a season of conversion and repentance; a time to live out the message John proclaims: “Reform your lives, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” The Kingdom does not appear out of the blue. It will not come automatically. God will bring about the realization of this via people. This will come only when certain conditions are met – where people are converted to a new style of life where they are willing to commit themselves to banish injustice either personal or societal and ready to stand for one another. In this, Kingdom is imminent. But whether it will indeed materialize depends on each one of us.
Repentance and conversion will not only happen during advent, it should be forever but in what way? It is by begging pardon for our sins. Sin is like a poison in the body which slowly kills. Penance is the way to detoxify our souls. Many of us collect sins and before we know it, our souls are cluttered like attics filled with junks. To prepare for God’s coming, we need to do some housecleaning. We must make room for Him by getting rid of sins. Sacramental confession is a great help.
We are not only for Christ’s looking but we are looking forward for his coming at the end of times. We are so very thankful for his continual presence in us, but he can only enter a heart that is contrite and pure – a changed heart. As Mother Theresa of Calcutta had said: “Change your hearts…unless we change our hearts we are not converted.”
Reform! Repent! Reform your lives! And turn from sin. Say, ‘we are sorry’ and walk with it. Do it! And do it now! Tomorrow may be too late! Now is the acceptable time because the Kingdom of God is at hand!
See Today’s Readings: Cycle A