Reverse Your Mad Rush Against God

    At the 250th anniversary of the founding of Harvard University, the students marched in a torchlight procession. The most memorable group was the Freshman Class, one month old, which emerged with a gigantic banner reading, "The University Has Been Waiting 250 Years for Us." The Gospels present Jesus Christ and exclaim that all the ages have been waiting for his arrival, that all history has been preparing for his coming.

    Today's Gospel tells us through John the Baptist how we should prepare to receive Jesus, our Savior's coming into our lives during the Advent season by repentance and the renewal of life. John preached that the appropriate behavior for those preparing the way of the Lord was to be baptized as they confessed their sins. He wanted the Jews to prepare their lives for the Messiah by filling in the valleys of prejudice, leveling the mountains of pride and straightening out their crooked paths of injustice and immorality. John recommended a baptism of repentance in the river Jordan to the Jews who were familiar with ritual and symbolic washings. The most amazing thing about John's baptism was that, as a Jew, he was asking fellow-Jews to submit to the baptism of repentance which only a Gentile was obliged to undergo.

    A woman was dying of cancer. Her doctor said, "Ma'am, your cancer has spread, and I'm afraid you'll die soon. Is there any last wish you'd like me to fulfill?" "Yes," cried the woman weakly, "Can you take me to another doctor?" It's difficult to accept painful truths like, "I'm sick," or "I'm a sinner." But, John's accusing finger diagnoses their spiritual cancers, and prescribes their cure: Repentance. The Greek word for repentance, metanoia, means reverse mind. John calls us to reverse our mad rush against God and surf safely on the waves of Love. 

    The world's ways are enticing. Its waves promise ‘new highs' of narcotics, narcissism, sex, success, popularity and possessions. Salvation is possible only through reversing our minds (which is a process) from all these in order to receive the Messiah. While we have to be careful of those false messiahs who promise ‘instant salvation', we need to take earnest effort in preparation for the Messiah.

    Any program or project will become successful through our preparation for it. Our tendency is to think that everything should happen fast and easily - especially in our spiritual life. But that's not true. Think about how much work goes into plowing a farmer's field before it's ready to plant. Think about the nine months of preparation that occur before a mother gives birth to her child. Think about the literally thousands of man-hours that a professional football team uses just to get ready for one regular season football game. Or think about everything artists have to do in order to get their canvas ready for painting. There is no mad rush against all these things.  

    Advent is about preparing the canvas of our hearts to receive God's grace at Christmas.

In the Service of the Lord,
  Fr Thainese Alphonse


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