When I think about preparing for Christmas and the coming of Christ, repentance is not the first thing I think of. Actually, to be very honest, I think about gifts, parties, tacky Christmas sweaters, food, and eggnog. Before you judge me, allow me to say I’m totally Catholic, I love and serve Jesus, and at the same time I’m a human being with desires (not to mention I’m a millennial).
I need this Gospel and I need to hear and see witnesses like this zealous man – John the Baptist. At the very core, this is a Gospel of repentance and restoration.
What are we preparing for? What are we working towards? It is evident that John was sent for the sole purpose of preparing us. He was sent to prepare us so that we would be ready for the coming of God not only to earth, but into our hearts. He was calling us to “repent” and to change our ways. He was calling us to have an open and receptive heart. John was not sent for us to admire or follow him. He wasn’t sent for us to do everything we can for a preparation that focuses largely on our own self-promotion.
When we look around our world, scroll through social media, watch tv, or examine our own lives we’re confronted with the reality of John’s message. Our world and our lives are not as they should be. We could each name the sinful or broken places of our lives: anger, gossip, greed, gluttony, lives controlled by fear, years of guilt that have crippled us. The list could go on and on.
Advent not only calls us to repent, but also to a deeper level of restoration in Christ. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit for the grace of true repentance in our hearts so that he can clear out what needs to be cleared out in our hearts (or what we need shed). Also, what we need to add. Then, we can truly receive Jesus into our hearts and prepare the way of the Lord by our own words, actions, and Christ-like witness. It’s not about us, Advent is about how Jesus desires to transform our lives. Heed the call of St. John the Baptist and “prepare the way of the Lord.”