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Third Week of Advent

Luke 3:10-18

Once again John the Baptist can help us in our preparation for meeting Christ this Christmas Day, just as he helped his contemporaries to prepare for Jesus’ coming. His preaching was so effective that it made many people, even tax collectors and soldiers, ask him how they could be ready for the Messiah. Now he is asking each of us today, 'What preparations are you making for the coming of Jesus this Christmas?'

The best means we have at our disposal is the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This means personal Confession. Sadly there are still a few priests who conduct General Absolution in their parishes but this has been forbidden by the Church; it was allowed for a time but that permission has been withdrawn. Only in extraordinary circumstances, as in times of war or plague when there are literally hundreds of people wanting Confession and there are not enough priests is General Absolution possible and, even then, individuals who have committed serious sins still have to confess those to a priest at their earliest opportunity. That is the condition laid down for the forgiveness of those sins.

If you know of a General Absolution taking place in your parish boycott it and spread the word among your fellow parishioners not to attend. Challenge your priest and if he still persists, report him to the bishop.

Jesus gives us personal Confession because He knows it is the best means of growing close to Him. It means that we have to face up to the facts about our relationship with Him, with other people and ourselves. Otherwise we can go through life thinking everything is as it should be and we are doing well. In fact, in all our lives there are things which are not as they should be and we are not doing as well as we can. We need to keep a constant check on ourselves.

Can we examine our conscience more thoroughly? In our relationship with God we could ask ourselves how much quality time to give to God, morning and evening? We must give Him this if we say He is the most important Person in our lives. Do we think of Him through the day? When we do pray, how well do we pray? Is it just words or do we really express our love? Are there moments of silence in our prayers or do we do all the talking? One thing we can be certain of is that what God has to say to us is far more important than what we have to say to Him. This means that there must be moments of quiet, learning to rest in His love and waiting for Him to speak to us.

Remember the word ACTS - adoration, contrition, thanksgiving and supplication. Our daily prayers should include these four elements. Do I try to develop a personal relationship with each Person of the Blessed Trinity, Our Blessed Lady who is our heavenly mother, our patron saint and our Guardian Angel? How well do I attend Mass and could I go to an extra Mass in the week? Do I read the Scriptures in which God speaks to me? Do I show love for Our Lady by reciting her Rosary regularly, which she has asked us to do when she appeared at Lourdes and Fatima? Do I remember the Holy Souls in Purgatory in my prayers?

What kind of person am I with others? Am I a pain in the neck? Am I selfish and thoughtless? Do I make the world revolve around me? Do I make life hard and unpleasant for anyone? Am I a bully and unapproachable? Am I sensitive to the feelings of others? Am I helpful or am I mean with my time, my money or my talents?

Parents have to ask what kind of parents are they with their children, and children have to ask how much they love their parents. If I am living with my parents and I am working do I contribute to the running costs of the home or do I sponge off my parents? Employers and employees have to examine how fair and honest they are in their respective roles: how do I treat those I employ and do I give good service for the wage I am paid? Sometimes it is good to ask ourselves how do others see us? We can learn much from the answers! And of course the most important thing is how does God see us?

Finally, let us take a look at ourselves. Would God be pleased with the thoughts I have? Am I proud, greedy, angry, envious, jealous, lazy, deceitful, unchaste and a gossip? Do I forgive others?

John the Baptist had the right idea. He proclaimed the coming of Christ and announced the imminent appearing of God’s Kingdom. He called the people to change their way of living.

Holy Spirit, give us the wisdom to know that John the Baptist's message is meant for us today, just as much as it was for the people who heard him 2,000 years ago. Inspire us to use this Advent as a time to clean up our lives, and prepare to greet the Lord on His birthday, by making a sincere Confession.

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