Reflections - December 4, 2016

“A voice of one crying out in the desert: Prepare the Way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”  Mt. 3:3.
 
On this Second Sunday of Advent the Church presents us with the call of John the Baptist to prepare your “hearts”.  We have to prepare a worthy path to the Lord.  How will we do it?  Ladies and Gentlemen, you have to soften your hearts.  We have to open up to God and our neighbor.   We have to transform “a heart of stone into a heart of flesh” to be able to see God in others.  In other words, we must pray and ask the Lord for the discernment to sort our disordered affections and be more compassionate.
 
In this Gospel John tells the Pharisees, the Sadducees and also us:  “Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.  And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’….”. Mt. 3:8-9.
 
John requires the fruit of good works……We have to be collaborators in God’s plan, “not a hindrance in the path to the salvation of our neighbor”.
 
John’s message is clear:  practice works of mercy and don’t say, “we are children of Abraham”.  This conflicted sharply with the Hebrew traditions that believed that it was enough to belong to the people of Israel to be saved or to be a son of Abraham to not have to have any worries.  However, John makes them see that to be one of God’s chosen people is demonstrated by doing good works.  Today the message is the same for you and me, not because we have been Catholic all our lives and because we are family of important people in the church who has given us faith.  This is not a bad thing, but….. “the faith must be purified”, the true faith is demonstrated by good works, as the Second letter of Paul tells us:  “Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God”.
 
I end with this beautiful phrase by Isaiah about the new order established by Jesus, the Son of God.  “The wolf shall be the guest of the lamb…..”.  The message to our current society is:  Let us learn to be inclusive in our culture “leaving behind the disease to exclude and disqualify people” because of their race, religious or political views.  Pope Francis tells us that fundamentalism, intolerance and arrogance “is not Christian.  These are attitudes in us that can be human, but are not Christian”.
 
Let us ask the Lord in the Eucharist for the grace of humility to straighten in this time of Advent this twisted product of sin and to also open our hearts to give hope and comfort to the neighbor that suffers.