IIn the gospel today, we hear about John the Baptist, living and preaching in the wilderness, dressed in rough clothing, eating locusts and wild honey. His harsh warning that the kingdom of heaven is
near urges people to repent, as he points to Jesus as the mightier one. He calls his hearers a bunch of snakes, telling them that axes will cut them down, threatening the Sadducees and Pharisees with hell.
This gospel certainly contrasts the warm feelings we have enjoyed in our holiday preparations as we anticipate spending time with our loved ones this Christmas season. The nearness of God's kingdom calls us to action - to repent, to be converted, to have a change of heart. John's words
should raise questions we need to face and answer. It is likely we have areas in our lives that have been neglected and that need attention.
How have we shown love to the people closest to us....our spouse, our children, our parents or friends? How have we failed to show them love? Have we neglected someone or failed to treat them as we should have? What about ourselves? Do we care for ourselves by staying in shape, physically and spiritually?
We often take those closest to us for granted. We may assume they know we love them, even if we haven’t told them so in a long while. Perhaps our daily cares, routines and habits leave us little energy to give our families and friends the time to show them that we love them. As we celebrate the love of God for us this Christmas, maybe we can be a little more kind to ourselves and begin taking care of ourselves. Then perhaps we can give those we love more of our attention, more of our care, concern and love, more of ourselves.
We say we have faith in Christ, but does what we are doing reveal our faith and love in Jesus? What we do, our actions, gives meaning to our love. If we are truly repentant, we want to change, to act on ways to improve. We can let this Advent be a time to make some changes. We know we cannot do this by our own will. Advent, however, gives us what we need to act...it gives us hope...it gives us a Saviour!
It has been said that where there is life, there is change. Change requires action. Think of a tree, whose glorious colored autumn leaves wither and fall when winter winds blow, only to return once again when spring bursts forth new buds which form new leaves. This cycle would not be possible if the tree refused to change and let go of its leaves. Change is difficult for us because it comes with no guarantees that things will be better as a result. The only guarantee we have is the blessing of a life
lived close to God.
Advent is hope. It is the promise and certainty of God’s presence in our lives in the ultimate gift of Jesus. If we receive Him in our hearts, really receive, then His love will abide in us and give us the grace to love ourselves, and to fully share His love with those around us.
May this Advent be a time of growth for each of us, and bring us to the fullness of God's love for us, as we pray, "come, Lord Jesus."