Second Sunday of Advent
December 7, 2014 – Year B
Readings: Is 40:1-5, 9-11; Psalm 85; 2 Pt 3:8-14; Mk 1:1-8
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
At his very first Angelus message after being elected Pope, Pope Francis said, “The Lord Jesus never tires of forgiving. It is we who tire of asking for forgiveness.” He quoted this passage from chapter 8 of the gospel of John, where Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, do not sin anymore.”
This is one of the passages I heard from my Franciscan professors all throughout my seminary formation. This is how fast our Lord gives absolution. “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, do not sin anymore.” That is less than 30 seconds. Confession in Holy Name of Mary is about one minute. That’s much longer. And for those who ask, “Why is confession so fast?” I don’t know. But that’s how Jesus did it.
St. John the Baptist is at the center of the first few days of Advent. He has very strong words. He is a voice crying out in the desert. “Prepare the way of the Lord. Make straight his paths.” He is proclaiming the baptism of repentance. For those who are not really open to God’s mercy, he called them, “You brood of vipers!” Those are really strong words.
We also know that John the Baptist is a very humble man. Although he is emphatic in proclaiming the message of God and the need for repentance, he knows who he is and who God is and who Jesus is. Because this is what humility is all about: the acceptance of the truth. That’s why he said, “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and untie his sandals.”
Because of his humility, our Lord gave him the highest honor and praise when he said, “No one born of a woman is greater than John the Baptist.”
Humility is of course a requisite for repentance, and during the season of Advent, we have the color purple – the color of repentance. As Pope Francis says, it is us who tire of asking forgiveness, because it is tiresome. It is exhausting to take a closer look at ourselves in the eyes of God. It requires a lot of humility. Just like it is tiresome for us to clean our house when there are visitors coming for the holidays, we also know how great we will feel when everything is in order.
When my bishop from the Philippines was coming to visit, I looked forward to being with him. I didn’t like preparing the rectory for his coming – cleaning the rectory and putting away all my stuff, but I felt great when everything was in order. Removing unnecessary things that we don’t need helps us feel great.
There is always a line for Confession on Wednesday night. This sacrament which we emphasize during the season of Advent gives us comfort, strength and forgiveness.
At the beginning of the Mass, we ask God’s forgiveness. During the offertory, we will sing some of the words from the first reading. We will remind ourselves, “Like a shepherd, God feeds his flock and gathers the lambs in his arms. Holding them carefully close to his heart, leading them home.”