Homily from the 3rd Sunday of Advent - Year C
Last week, I told our teens at the Life Teen Mass, that like a good meal, there’s a kind of recipe to the spiritual life. A certain regimen that should be followed to exercise our souls, make sure we are in good spiritual shape, and well-prepared this Advent, not only for the coming of Jesus this Christmas, but more importantly for when he comes at the end of our lives.
And like a good stew which is enriched and flavored with a variety of ingredients that complement and build upon each other, a recipe for the spiritual life could be said to contain four basic ingredients:
- Pray daily
- Go to Mass weekly
- Go to confession seasonally
- And rejoice always!
And as it turns out, the readings for the four Sunday’s of Advent this year dovetail with those four ingredients. Last week, we talked about the first ingredient: to pray daily. This week, the ingredient the readings point to is to go to confession seasonally.
What is meant by going to confession “seasonally”? Quite simply, go to confession once every fall, winter, spring and summer. Well truly, go to confession when you need to. If you know you’ve committed grave sin, get to confession. But otherwise, to go to confession every season, every three months is a good rule of thumb.
Let the change outside be a reminder of the change we want to experience inside; the continual conversion and transformation that the Lord invites us into all our lives long as he molds us into Saints.
It is in the Sacrament of Reconciliation that the way of the Lord is prepared within our hearts.
Through confession, the Lord wishes to enter our hearts and have our hearts enter freely and without encumbrance into his. As we heard in the 1st reading and Gospel:
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth.
In confession, the valleys, mountains, winding roads and rough ways of sin are filled in and made straight.
In the Gospel, we hear a solemn introduction to the appearance of John the Baptist.
Listen to this very formal, regal, and precise language:
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar,
when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea,
and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee,
and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region
of Ituraea and Trachonitis,
and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene,
during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas,
the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.
The reason why St. Luke is so detailed in his description of the historical situation into which John the Baptist arrives is because he wants us to know, that this event and the events of the life of Jesus Christ, are not mythology, but historical fact. It’s as if he’s saying “John the Baptist began his preaching at exactly this time in exactly this place. Go ahead look it up.”
Because he wants to make it very clear: this Jesus, of whom he is about to write, isn’t a fairy tale. He is a real man, the Son of Man, the Son of God, who walked among us at a particular point in time, in a particular place, and did particular things. Not least of which was his passion, death and resurrection.
He wants us to know that Jesus is real and did all these real things for our salvation so that we might know that our salvation is real; our destiny for Sainthood is real. Becoming Saints isn’t a fairy tale. It is the real plan of God for us.
Part of how God wishes to make us Saints is by the forgiveness of our sins. And God wishes to forgive our sins right here on earth and right now in our lives. He wishes for the forgiveness of our sins to be a real, tangible event we experience in the history of our lives.
You might imagine for a moment, St. Luke the Evangelist writing an account of God calling you to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Perhaps it would sound something like this:
In the seventh year of the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI,
When Barak Obama was President of the United States,
and Mitch Daniels was governor of Indiana,
and Tom Henry was mayor of the city of Fort Wayne,
and Kevin Rhoades was Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend,
during the pastorship of Monsignor John Kuzmich at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church,
the word of God came to you, and called you to receive the infinite and blessed mercy, love and forgiveness of God, the Almighty Father, Creator of the Universe, through the Holy Sacrament of Reconciliation.
A good recipe for preparation to meet the Lord, both at Christmas and at the end of our lives, includes the ingredient of going to confession seasonally. Throughout this Advent season, there are a great number of opportunities for you to do so. We hear confessions every Saturday at 8:30AM and Wednesday at 4:30PM. And there are a number of Advent Penance Services being held at our area parishes. Our Lady of Good Hope - this coming Tuesdaym St. Charles - this coming Wednesday, Ours is next Monday, December 17th. And St. Jude’s - next Thursday December 20th. Full schedule in the bulletin.
Let it be a full and complete Advent with all four ingredients of daily prayer, weekly Mass, seasonal confession, rejoicing always.