From our pastor, Father Neil Herlihy:
At this time, many of us are busy going shopping, going to parties, making plans, and getting ready for Christmas. But in the midst of all this “busyness”, are we really preparing spiritually for the coming of Jesus? Are we leading others to Christ by our words and our example? These are some of the questions that our Advent scriptures invite us and challenge us to address.
In our gospels for Advent this invitation and challenge to prepare for Christ and to lead others to Him comes principally from John the Baptist. John serves as a bridge between the Old and New Testaments. He is the last of the Old Testament prophets who point the way to the Messiah. He is the first of the New Testament witnesses and martyrs. Some regard him as some crazy person who lived in the desert, wore strange clothes, and ate exotic foods. Yet there is nothing strange or crazy or exotic about his message. It is very clear; very practical; very prudent; very challenging, and extremely difficult. He tells us to prepare for the coming of the Lord, acknowledge our shortcomings and failures, repent of our sins, and change our hearts. With great humility, he acknowledges that his role is subordinate to that of Jesus. He must decrease and Jesus must increase. He is the voice urging us to make way for the Lord and prepare for His coming.
As we know, the coming of Jesus is near, but we still have time to prepare for Him. We also still have time to help others prepare for Him. One of our leading Catholic authors reminds us that one of our major challenges this Advent may be to help our families, our other loved ones, our friends, our neighbors, and our co-workers truly see the light of Christ shine in the world. This may be difficult unless they can clearly see the light of Christ shining in us. If they see substantive changes in our lives, it may encourage them to make substantive changes in their lives. And this might place them on the path of spiritual progress, on the path of spiritual healing, a path that John the Baptist in such an eloquent way challenges us to embrace.
We know the Lord is ready to come to us. Are we ready to open our hearts to receive Him? Through the Sacrament of reconciliation, through acts of charity, and through our good example, my hope is that soon we will be able to answer, “Yes Lord, I am ready to receive You. In the spirit of John the Baptist, I am ready to guide others to Your loving embrace.”