One of the great Advent figures who points to the coming of the Messiah into the world is St. John the Baptist. In the Gospel for this Sunday, we hear him crying out, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths.”
John’s ministry was a great call to repentance, as preparation for the coming of Christ. Even now, he calls us to repentance as well, opening our hearts, our minds, and our souls, to Jesus Christ. As John says, he has come to baptize us with water for repentance, but the one to come will baptize us with fire and with the Holy Spirit. When we were baptized, we experienced both the baptism of John and the Baptism of Jesus. We received forgiveness for our sins, and we received the fire of the Holy Spirit.
Until we understand the seriousness of sin and the damage it does to our souls, our relationships, our culture, and our planet, we will not understand how desperately we need the salvation Jesus brings us. The song Amazing Grace begins with the words, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.” In the ’80s, there were people who wanted to change these to, “…who saved and set us free.” They did not like the idea of calling ourselves wretches. But if we do not understand how sin has rendered us wretches, we will never grasp how amazing grace is. Without John, we do not grasp how badly we need Jesus.
Please make plans to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation during this Advent season.
–Fr. Mike Comer