A HOMILY FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT – CYCLE “A” – 12/8/13 – SMG
Pax et Bonum!
A good friend of mine was teaching PRE at his parish in Michigan. And last Advent, he asked his class, “If I sold my house, and my car, and everything that I own, and gave all the money to the poor, would I get into Heaven? The children all answered, “No.” How about if I cleaned the church every day, mowed the yard, and kept everything neat and tidy all-year round, would that get me into Heaven. Again, the answer was “No.” He went on with how about if I spent all my time in church, and read the whole Bible, and prayed the Rosary every day, would that get me into Heaven? The children agreed once more, “No, that won’t get you into Heaven either”, they said. So my friend asks his class, what then do I need to do to get into Heavens? One little boy raised his hand and said, “You gotta be dead!” And this is true, but hopefully we all know that there’s a little more to it than just that.
Today as we come to Mass, we run into John the Baptist, and St. John is giving us the answer to what we must do to get home to Heaven. John the Baptist says very clearly, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” Notice the urgency in John’s words. He doesn’t say the Kingdom is coming in a little while. He doesn’t say the Kingdom of God is coming soon. He doesn’t say look for the Kingdom of God in the next few weeks. He says very clearly the Kingdom of God is at hand. It is imminent. The Kingdom of God is not just going to happen. But in fact, the Kingdom is happening. The Promised One of God is already in the world, and St. John the Baptist knows this. Not only does he know this, but by this time he has a pretty good idea that that Holy One of God, is actually his cousin, Jesus. Everything is getting ready to happen. Things are about to change forever. And it is St. John the Baptist’s job to get everybody ready for this incredible thing that God is about to do!
Today, in 2013, almost 2014, we need to have more of that same sense of urgency that St. John the Baptist had two-thousand years ago. Our time to repent is right now. We don’t know that we will have time later. We don’t know when Jesus is going to return. We do know, that while we are living in this world, the Kingdom of Heaven is on the line for each and every one of us. What we do in this life matters. The good and the bad both matter a great deal. How we spend our time, our money, our energy matters also, and we are going to have to be accountable for this life that God has given us. Because that accounting, that reckoning, that judgment is coming for all of us, we need to all take the opportunity that we have, while we can, to repent. It was not just the people of St. John the Baptist’s age that needed to repent. We all do. In fact, many of our sins today would make those people getting baptized in the Jordan River blush. Today we have taken sin to whole new levels of accomplishment. Make no mistake about it, we too need to repent and turn back to God.
That, my brothers and sisters, brings us to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Today, our primary way of repenting, is to turn back to God by confessing our sins, receiving penance and absolution, and then taking the grace and strength which comes only from the Sacrament of Reconciliation to live better lives. We all need this Sacrament. And yet, studies and surveys seem to indicate that there are large numbers of Catholics who haven’t been to Reconciliation in a long, long time. How can we repent? How can we get ready, or be ready, for Christ’s return, if we are not using the Sacrament of Reconciliation? There is no other way for us today to get rid of our serious sin. And believe me, all of us have some serious sin to get rid of!
This Tuesday evening, December 10th, we have our communal Advent Penance service at 7 PM. We all need to be here on Tuesday night. We’ve got a lot priests coming. It’s our opportunity here at St. Maria Goretti. All of the other parishes also have their communal Advent services coming up in the next couple of weeks. Please, make a commitment to your own personal repentance in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Even if it has been a long time, NOW is our time to make things right with God.
We all want to go to Heaven. Isn’t it time that we all do what we need to do, in order to get there?
May God bless us, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!