A WORD FROM THE PASTOR
Soap Only Works When it is Applied !
Jordan River was the place that represented the eastern border of the Promised Land, separating it from the desert — where the Jews had wandered for 40 years after centuries of slavery in Egypt. By preaching his message there, John was inviting the Jews of his day to come out of the bondage of slavery, to leave their faults, their wandering and their sinful lives behind, and to enter into the Promised Land full of God’s blessings.
Advent, like Lent, is a season given to us so that we may repent of our sins and be reconciled with God and his Church by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It was for this purpose that the Sacrament was instituted by Jesus after his Resurrection: “Receive the Holy Spirit: Those whose sins you forgive are forgiven; those whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn 20:18-22). It is for this on-going reconciliation, then, not just to “preach repentance and forgiveness of sins… to all nations beginning from Jerusalem” (Lk 24:47), that Jesus sent his apostles and their successors out to the ends of the world.
John's message calls us to confront and confess our sins. We have to turn away from them in sincere repentance and receive God's forgiveness. There are basically two reasons why people who have recognized their sins fail to receive forgiveness for them. The first is that they fail to repent. But the second is that they fail to forgive. Jesus is very explicit about this in Matthew 6:14 &15: "For if you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions."
Is there someone I need to forgive today? We must not let what others have done destroy our lives. We can't be forgiven unless we forgive. We must release our bitterness if we are to be able to allow God to do his healing work in our lives.
A soap manufacturer and a pastor were walking together down a street in a large city. The soap manufacturer casually said, "The Gospel you preach hasn't done much good, has it? Just observe. There is still a lot of wickedness in the world, and a lot of wicked people, too!" The pastor made no reply until they passed a dirty little child making mud pies in the gutter. Seizing the opportunity, the pastor said, "I see that soap hasn't done much good in the world either; for there is much dirt still here, and many dirty people are still around." The soap man said, "Oh, well, soap only works when it is applied." And the pastor said, "Exactly! So it is with the Gospel."
Just like soap must be applied to remove the dirt and other things, one must apply to his/her life Jesus’ teachings—repenting for sins and ask God for forgiveness.
Have a fruitful Advent