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Arlington Catholic Herald

Get in shape for Christmas
By Fr. Jack Peterson, YA

Two of my brothers in Youth Apostles ran in the Marine Corps Marathon last month. I admire people who are motivated enough to accomplish such a monumental task. One of them shared with me an outline of the intense preparations he made for that day, which included an intense, well-formulated running schedule, dietary program and sleep regimen. It is hardly surprising that so much preparation is needed in order to run more than 26 miles in one morning.

Christmas recalls a pivotal moment in the history of mankind and a fundamental mystery of faith in the life of every Christian. It makes sense that we as grateful Christians would make serious preparations for this monumental celebration of God’s goodness and beauty. In order to truly celebrate the event of the Word-made-flesh, we must take time to prepare ourselves spiritually. This is one main purpose of Advent.

John the Baptist was sent by God to help humanity prepare for the coming of the Son of God to dwell among us. Both John’s life and his message helped to prepare the way 2,000 years ago. His life and his message remain very helpful for our preparations today.

John’s life was marked by a powerful humility. As effective as his ministry was and as large as the crowds were that came to hear him speak, John never lost focus on his mission. He never got caught up in the notoriety or the importance of his ministry; rather, he took every opportunity possible to point people to Jesus and to state what was in his heart, “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.” We can learn so much from John’s humility and focus on his vocation.

John’s message was simple and direct. It helped that the people of God had been without a prophet for many years and that they were hungering for a refreshing, authoritative word from God. Mark the Evangelist said that John “appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” God is making it clear that there is no welcoming of Christ into our hearts without an awareness that my life is not as it should be, that I have turned away from the Lord and wandered from the path to life. I have offended God and hurt myself and my neighbor. If I do not see this reality, then I do not need Jesus to come among us and set me free.

The good news includes the fact that God is patient with us as we fumble our way on this journey back to Him. St. Peter teaches that God “is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” God wants every one of us to return to Him and receive His life-giving mercy; He shutters at the thought of even one of us perishing because we fail to either recognize our need for reconciliation or His burning desire to extend it to us.

One of the greatest graces in life is the sacrament of penance. It is a place where God speaks to us so tenderly, forgives us so generously and comforts us so warmly. Isaiah the prophet, inspired by the Holy Spirit, speaks of the grace of the sacrament: “Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated.”

As we prepare for Christmas and the coming of Christ, Healer and Redeemer, it makes sense to heed John’s message of repentance. Make use of the great sacrament of penance this Advent.

It also makes sense to imitate John’s humility and his desire to bring others to Christ. Perhaps we can make a commitment this Advent to invite one friend or family member to join us for a prayerful event at our home or at our parish in order to help them to encounter Christ anew this Christmas.

Finally, with all that we do this Advent in preparation for the coming of Christ, may we share in the mission of the Church, prophetically proclaimed by Isaiah: “Go up onto a high mountain, Zion, herald of glad tidings; cry out at the top of your voice, Jerusalem, herald of good news! Fear not to cry out and say to the cities of Judah; Here is your God! Here comes with power the Lord God, who rules with his strong arm.”

Fr. Peterson is assistant chaplain at Marymount University in Arlington and director of the Youth Apostles Institute in McLean.

18 posted on 12/03/2011 8:45:52 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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The Work of God

  Prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight - John the Baptist Catholic Gospels - Homilies - Matthew, Luke, Mark, John - Inspirations of the Holy Spirit

Year B

 -  Second Sunday of Advent

Prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight - John the Baptist

Prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight - John the Baptist Catholic Gospels - Matthew, Luke, Mark, John - Inspirations of the Holy Spirit Mark 1:1-8

1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, "See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way;
3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,' "
4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
6 Now John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.
7 He proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.
8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

Inspiration of the Holy Spirit - From the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Second Sunday of Advent - Prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight - John the Baptist “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”. This was the work assigned to my prophet John the Baptist.

Before he was even born, he was filled with the Holy Spirit in the womb of Elizabeth his mother, at the time of the visitation of my mother. He grew up as a holy man like no other before him, because he was given the task of preparing the way for my coming as the saviour of the world.

He was a humble man, who practiced austerity and self-denial; he offered his entire life to my service until the day he was put to death by Herod.

His preaching encompassed my entire message, which is that you all repent, because my kingdom is very near to you, he baptized with water and proclaimed my baptism with the fire of the Holy Spirit. In humility he declared his unworthiness in my presence, because he acknowledged that I was the Son of God, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

He was given the honour of baptizing me, in order for me to sanctify the waters of baptism, to allow you all to be washed of your sins and become part of my mystical body.

His mission was to call people to repentance, so that they could be worthy to meet me and obtain their salvation.

His work has been passed down to all of you who come to believe in me and to follow me. When you repent of your own sins and come humbly before me, you receive my greatest gift, the fire of the Holy Spirit; which transforms the normal man into a new Christ, a reflection of my own being. Your apostolate will be to bring me souls, so that they will be saved.

I call you all to be transformed by me. Prepare the way for the Lord by your repentance, by your humility, by your devotions and your life in imitation of me.

I will do my silent work in your soul and make you a child of God, I will sanctify you and give you my wisdom, I will grant you my peace and bless you to live joyfully for me.

Author: Joseph of Jesus and Mary

19 posted on 12/03/2011 8:59:02 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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