To help us to persevere on our journey during this second week of advent, the letter to the Romans uses the words “endurance” and “encouragement.” Indeed, it’s difficult to endure something challenging without encouragement. Do we view the Advent Season as something to endure, or do we just sit back, relax and enjoy? John the Baptist has something to say about that in this week’s Gospel as he calls for both a change of heart and conduct. He calls for a turning of one’s life from rebellion to obedience toward God. His mission was to “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths”. This is our mission too, especially during Advent. Learning that John wore clothing made of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist, and that his food was locusts and wild honey tells us that mortification and penance played a significant part in John’s life. They were necessary for him to endure his mission. Likewise, mortification and penance are required in order to live our Catholic faith. There are many ways for us to do our part in making the path straight for the Lord. Let us commit to these three actions before the conclusion of this Advent:
1) Make a good confession. Confessing our sins is a great way to dispose ourselves to prepare for the coming of the Lord. John’s first word to the crowd is “Repent”. He tells the Scribes and Pharisees that just because they claim Abraham as their father, that doesn’t guarantee them God’s salvation. We can fall into the same trap, thinking that all is well by virtue of our baptism. Remember, baptism makes us a child of God, but it doesn’t make us an adult. We must continually turn our hearts to the Lord with spiritual exercises to become stronger in Christ.
2) Work on improving your prayer life, no matter where you currently are. Commit to increasing your time and contemplation throughout this season.
3) Fast. Give up one meal a week and donate the money you would have spent to a cause to help someone less fortunate.
Just as John’s difficult mission was to prepare the way for Jesus, our entire Christian life is a preparation for meeting with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
By Deacon Dave Arms