Second Sunday of Advent - Year B - 7th December 2014

Prepare the Way of the Lord.

The consoling words of the first reading are read again in the gospel. Only this time the way being prepared is not the return journey from exile in Babylon but the path to our hearts as John the Baptist calls the people to repentance as they prepare for the arrival of Jesus.

In the first century there were a variety of views as to how God would act on behalf of his people. Many hoped for dramatic intervention and stunning military victories, but John's focus was on their need to repent, in other words to change their world view and to live accordingly. In this way they would leave themselves open to what God would do through Jesus who, though more powerful than John, would come among them as a servant.

Like the people of John's time we too long for a better world and a time when suffering will cease. However, such a change will not come by the waving of a divine magic wand. It will come when we prepare ourselves for it, when we open our minds and hearts to the gift that is offered to us at Christmas.

Repentance is a fundamental change of heart, or attitude, a willingness to abandon sin and embrace God's gift of life and love. We all have valleys and hills in our lives that get in the way of our becoming the persons that God wants us to be. We need to face up to them and see them for what they are. We have to admit them to ourselves. Maybe we have to admit them to others. And we have to admit them to God.

This change is only possible with the grace of God. John the Baptist reminds us that this grace is ever present. We sense an urgency in his preaching as the time for repentance is now.

That is why Advent is such an appropriate time to celebrate the sacrament of reconcilia­tion. It is in this sacrament that we encounter the all-embracing love of God who never ceases to offer us new life and hope and who empowers us to be his instruments for change in a world torn apart by selfishness and greed. What better way could there be to prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness of our hearts? Please note the dates & times of the Reconciliation Services displayed in the narthex.

St Peter invites us to live lives without spot or stain. He is encouraging us to live the call of Christ, and to have time for what is lasting.

Fr. Kevin O'Shea, C.M.