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Cath·o·hól·ic

Father Kirlin

ST. MARY MAGDALEN

Second Sunday of Advent : December 4, 2016

Are you serious about repenting?
A mother told her young son to go to bed and to say his prayers and ask God to make him a good boy. The boy’s father passed his door just in time to hear him say, “And God make me a good boy if you can; and if you can’t, don’t worry about it, ‘cause I’m having fun just the way I am.”’

In today’s Gospel passage, St. John the Baptist, who was always a serious person, tells the people who have come to hear him at the River Jordan, “Repent, the Kingdom of God is at hand”. To repent and reform our lives requires that people truly want to do so. The young boy did not really want to. And it appears that some saints might not wish to do so as well. You may recall what St. Augustine once prayed: “God, give me chastity, but not yet!”

We might not really want to repent for two reasons. First of all, we are not truly sorry for our sinful habits. Even though we might protest that we want to get rid of them, we find it hard to do so because they have a hold on us. The famous English poet John Dryden said: “We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.” Unless we make a sincerely determined effort to get rid of sinful habits, we will never repent enough to get rid of them.

The second reason we do not really want to repent is that bad habits are hard to break. So, how do we break those bad habits that can have a deadly hold on us? How do we succeed in other areas, like business? One plans, consults, and then puts the plan into effect. If we want to succeed in the business of our spiritual lives, we do something similar: we determine what we want and need to change. Then we seek the help of others. And we then put our plan into effect.

To break a bad habit (and so repent) takes a good plan. Through prayer, reflection, and self-examination, we first take a long, loving look at ourselves. It is important to see ourselves with the same kind of love with which God looks at us. Without true self-love, we can be too hard or too easy on ourselves. And these actions easily lead to despair or presumption. But with an appreciation of what God saw and desired on the day of our birth helps us to know our true destiny—to live with Him as His true children for all eternity.

Having decided what we want to repent of and why, we can then go into the next stage of planning—getting help from others. The first obvious person is the Lord Himself. In prayer, we can ask Him to help us to see and to be what He wants us to be. And, since Jesus is our model of life, we can meditate on the ways His virtues did not yield to vices. Others we would do well to speak and pray to are the saints. Someone once said that “a person’s best friends in life are the saints”. They have been through trials and temptations in life and so can assist us in repenting and overcoming our sinful habits. St. Monica, for instance, is a wonderful help for mothers and wives who have a wayward son, an indifferent husband, and a recalcitrant mother-in-law. St. Jerome, who had a difficult temper, can assist those with bouts of impatience and anger. Besides the saints, a good confessor or spiritual advisor can give us advice and counsel that can guide us on our spiritual journey.

After that, what remains for us to do is carry out our plans. We need to do so for as long as it takes, persevering and not giving up. Why is this Advent a time to repent? We prepare ourselves not only to celebrate Jesus’ first coming at Christmas but also to be ready to receive Him at His Second Coming. For, we remember what Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.”

Father Kirlin
Pastor

‘Everything is interconnected’

December 4, 2016

70. In the story of Cain and Abel, we see how envy led Cain to commit the ultimate injustice against his brother, which in turn ruptured the relationship between Cain and God, and between Cain and the earth from which he was banished. This is seen clearly in the dramatic exchange between God and Cain. God asks: “Where is Abel your brother?” Cain answers that he does not know, and God persists: “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground” (Gen 4:9-11). Disregard for the duty to cultivate and maintain a proper relationship with my neighbor, for whose care and custody I am responsible, ruins my relationship with my own self, with others, with God and with the earth. When all these relationships are neglected, when justice no longer dwells in the land, the Bible tells us that life itself is endangered. We see this in the story of Noah, where God threatens to do away with humanity because of its constant failure to fulfil the requirements of justice and peace: “I have determined to make an end of all flesh; for the earth is filled with violence through them” (Gen 6:13). These ancient stories, full of symbolism, bear witness to a conviction which we today share, that everything is interconnected, and that genuine care for our own lives and our relationships with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others.

Source : Laudato Si’

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