2nd Sunday of Advent (Mt 3:1-12)
REPENT AND CONFESS YOUR SINS
Fr. Joseph Dinh, O.P
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
We are in the first part of Advent, waiting for the second coming of the Lord. This week, a special man is being talked about, his name is John the Baptist. Who was John the Baptist, and what did he ask us to do? He advised us to prepare our souls because the Kingdom of the Lord was at hand. Now let us discuss what we will do to follow his suggestion?
1. Shall we concentrate on external preparations alone?
At the beginning of December, the weather in our country is getting cooler than before. Especially whenever we think of a popular Vietnamese song, which has become “classic” during the Christmas season, that is the Đêm Đông lạnh lẽo Chúa sinh ra đời (The Infant Lord was born on a cold winter night) composed by Hải Linh many years ago. And we can see many Christmas cards and video clips picturing snow falling, people wearing warm clothing, reindeers bringing gifts and others figures. However, they all seem to belong to western culture. In fact, in Vietnam and many other countries, there is no snow and the weather is usually hot on Christmas day. Therefore, these pictures do not give us any feeling of waiting the coming of the Lord.
2. Should we have some activities for Christmas day?
During this week, we see parishioners and choir members begin to build a very big Christmas crib inside the church with beautiful decorations such as Christmas trees, lights, bulbs, stars... And outside, still another bigger Christmas crib is being set up in front of the church. Every evening, choirs come here to practice Christmas songs and carols, while the children rehearse a little play depicting the Christmas scene with shepherds hurrying to pay respect to the Newly-born Infant Jesus at Bethlehem and the angels singing above. People send to their relatives and friends Christmas cards, gifts or talk about Christmas trips for the coming holidays. In a way, these activities remind us of the Christmas season, but they are not the preparations that we should do in order to welcome the coming of Our Lord into our life.
3. So what should we do?
“Repent and confess your sins”. John the Baptist said this when he proclaimed the coming of Jesus, the Holy Man sent by God the Father. Waiting for this Holy Man and ready to welcome him into our family, we have to prepare our dwelling carefully. John warned that we are trees and Jesus is like an axe. Every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown in to the fire. Therefore, all external events and activities are not John the Baptist’s purpose. He wanted that we should not pay too much attention to external preparations, but to focus to preparing ourselves internally and to reforming our life. He himself urged us to repent and confess our sins. It means that we should lead a simple life and be concerned of the needs of the poor. Moreover, the important thing is that we should make our souls clean through the sacrament of reconciliation. Remember, Jesus will come to the world for the second time to judge to the living and the dead. If we produce good fruit or become holy persons, we will be welcomed into his everlasting Kingdom. The Kingdom that the prophet Isaiah proclaimed in the first reading: “At that time, a wolf will reside with a lamb, and a leopard will lie down with a young goat, an ox and a young lion will graze together... A baby will play over the hole of the snake; over the nest of a serpent an infant will put his hand...”
Dear Sisters and brothers,
Time is flying and winter will soon change to spring; the Christmas festival and activities will end because they are temporary phenomena. The words of the Lord today reveal to us an everlasting Kingdom and the way to get to that Kingdom. Following the teaching of John the Baptist, we will have a truly happy life: an exciting Christmas season in the world and an eternal life in Jesus’ Kingdom. Amen.