2nd Sunday of Advent (Dec. 9, 2012)

This week’s Readings

Advent wreath in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Notre Dame

John the Baptist makes his first Advent appearance in this Sunday’s Gospel. Using the words of Isaiah, which undoubtedly he had studied from his youth, he proclaimed a baptism of repentance. This would help to fill the valleys, straighten the roads and smooth the rough spots in our lives.

Now the kind of baptism John has in mind has nothing to do with our Sacrament of Baptism. John’s baptism was symbolic, akin to taking a shower or bath whereby we wash off the dirt and grime. But what’s this have to do with repentance? With changing one’s life?

Now this is something I’ve never thought of before with this particular set of readings. In order to be washed clean, one has to take off their clothing, right? Well, look at the very first line of Baruch’s prophecy in the First Reading:Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery.”

Aha, I said to myself … This is something I can identify with!!! When I throw a pity party, when I complain about this, that and the other thing, when I tell everyone how awful my pain is, or how awful someone is treating me – isn’t that putting on the robe of mourning and misery? When I look at myself and see that I’m not living up to my own expectations of how I should be, don’t I then afflict myself with a steady stream of “I’m no good” thoughts, thus making myself feel miserable. Worse yet, if I think of myself as “hot stuff” but others don’t, then that really bugs me.

We put on the robe of misery when we make mountains out of molehills, blame others when things go wrong, when we worry and obsess about things over which we have no control and let them accumulate inside, when we never take a break, when we follow the path of least resistance, when we constantly insist we don’t need help and then mutter when no one offers to help, when we feel our “love” isn’t being reciprocated … those are times we put on the robe of misery.

So repentance would mean taking off that “pity robe” which we’ve put on ourselves. It means washing ourselves clean of that desire to be seen as a martyr or as someone who oh so heroically has to endure the vicissitudes of life, or who has to associate with such terrible people. Then something remarkable happens: the road of life becomes noticeably smoother and more level.

Love deeply, pray faithfully, laugh often!

herb yost reflections

Fr. Herb, C.S.C.

Find more prayerful Holy Cross resources for Advent.

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