The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He fed on locusts and wild honey. And this is what he proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
In addition to the second Sunday of Advent, today we celebrate one of the most universal and honored saints of the Church, St. Nicholas. The Lord’s Day always takes priority on the Church calendar, but I bet many excited children still put our their shoes last night!
In the Western culture a tradition began with the giving of gifts at Christmas time in the name of St. Nicholas. This was the genesis of Santa Claus. St. Nicholas was a 4th century Catholic Bishop who was known for giving gifts to the poor, his holiness, and his defense of our Faith against heresies. St. Nicholas is a reminder that our Catholic faith should lead us to share with others in need.
Today’s Gospel reading is an invitation to go deeper, celebrate more fully, and walk the road of prayer, penance, and almsgiving. St. John the Baptist is calling all of us to be holy and to prepare our hearts for Christ. In the modern culture we tend to focus on providing material items to others by blessing them with new coffee mugs, toys, and video games. But St. John the Baptist is calling us to spiritual awareness and to hear the message of “preparing the way of the Lord.” The preparation is repentance for the forgiveness of sins. While John baptized with water, Jesus baptizes us with the Holy Spirit to transform our repentance into true joy. The holy season of Advent should prepare us for a Christ-Centered Christmas.
No one should be too busy for Advent; Advent is an invitation to experience Christ in a new way! It gives us an opportunity to learn how to integrate our faith into our ordinary day-to-day lives. We can be the salt of the earth with our generosity, prayers, and service for others. Christ came that we might have life, and to share that life and his love with others. Let us be watchful during Advent for the person God wants us to share his divine love in our ordinary circumstances. Many times this turns out to be a “small matter” that in God’s eyes is a “great gift”.
Meditation: Preparing our hearts for Christ sometimes means we need to get to the Sacrament of Penance. Do an examination of conscience. Find time this week to go to confession.
For Emily’s work, including her newest book Secrets of the Sacred Heart: 12 Ways to Claim Jesus’ Promises in your Life, visit Ave Maria Press.You may download Good Tidings Advent Devotional Here. Good Tidings Free Download