We have just finished the month of November when we have remembered our deceased loved ones in prayer, in thought and in some cases in action, by visiting where they rest and perhaps having their grave blessed. This time of remembrance; which we celebrate each year; is an important step before we enter into Advent.
Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of the Lord. In the secular world the preparations are mostly around preparing for a holiday, with the gathering of friends and family, buying of presents, a large meal, usually with alcohol and lots of merriment. We as Christians know that our preparations have to be far more than the merriment, we realise that we also need to prepare for when Christ returns, and we will face judgement.
The readings today give us a glimpse of this’ in Baruch we are told to ‘take off your dress of sorrow and distress’; for us this points us away from the sadness we remember in November and elevates our hope that when the Lord comes again we will be glorified as Jesus was glorified.
The ‘cloak of the integrity of God’ which we are to wrap around us reminds us of our Baptism; when we had the white garment signifying the outward sign of our Christian dignity wrapped around us immediately after we had been washed clean by the Baptismal waters. This is a time to be washed clean again, to repent our sins and be prepared for the second coming of Jesus. Baruch goes on to share more prophesies of how God will elevate the Holy City, filled with His Chosen People, where everyone will ‘walk in safety under the Glory of God’.
The part of St Paul’s letter to the Philippians which we hear this week one of encouragement. The Philippians have heard the Good News, they have shared it and they are living it. St Paul urges them to continue to learn, deepening their awareness of God, through this they will ‘reach the perfect goodness which Jesus Christ produces in us for the glory and praise of God’. Think about that for a minute, St Paul is telling us that the more we love each other, the more we will understand God and by doing this then we can reach ‘perfect goodness’.
What do I need to do this week to love my neighbour more?
St Luke’s Gospel lists off the rulers of the various regions and territories, this does not mean that St Luke was a bit of a history buff. This is to give us context and its history; that the Gospel is not just a group of stories like fairy tales told to keep people entertained around the campfire. These events really happened; the Gospel is truth. St John the Baptist, whose own birth was out of the ordinary, preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins. This message from 2000 years ago is as relevant now as it was then. This message is timeless, because Jesus is the creator of time and space.
St Luke reinforces his message by quoting the prophet Isaiah in his description of John the Baptist as a voice that cries from the wilderness.
This message is for us –
Prepare a way for the Lord – what do I need to do to prepare better this Advent?
Make his paths straight – what paths have I ventured down which lead me away from the Lord?
Every valley will be filled in – where are the voids in my life, which only Jesus can fill?
Every mountain and hill will be laid low – what parts of my life do I elevate myself, which parts of my life do I need to practice humility?
Winding ways will be straightened – which parts of my life do I need to straighten out?
Rough roads made smooth – what are the rough edges of my life which need to be smoother?
And all mankind shall see the salvation of God – this offer of salvation is for everyone, if we put real effort into our practice of the Faith (including our preparations for Christmas) then we can all be saved.
Please check the Parish Newsletter for details of when Reconciliation is available, there is a Pastoral Area service on the 19th December in St Bede’s, what better time to be reconciled to God and our neighbour?
I am very much encouraged by the Walk with Me booklet, the reading for Saturday 4th December urges us to set aside time for the Lord in our busy-ness. This helps us to remember that the gift of His presence is far more important than any physical gift that we can offer or receive as presents.
Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)1
CCC 522, 711-716, 722: the prophets and the expectation of the Messiah
CCC 523, 717-720: the mission of John the Baptist
CCC 710: Israel’s exile foreshadowed the Passion
CCC 2532, 2636: Paul’s solicitude
Please keep in your prayers
- All expectant mothers and those trying to conceive, may they share the same joy Our Lady had when she first saw the Baby Jesus.
- The health care workers being asked to escalate their efforts again as the pandemic has evolved another variant.
- Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
- The Year of the Eucharist, that this will lead to a fresh outpouring of love by the people of God for the Body and Blood of Christ.
- The listening stage of the 16th Synod of Bishops which is entitled “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission” that all Catholics will take part.