Study: Is there anything keeping you from God or another person right now? What steps do you need to take to make it right?
Pray: Call upon the Lord for the strength to repent and seek forgiveness. Remember – the harder it is the more powerful the healing!
Serve: Is there some way you can be an agent of forgiveness? How can you bring people closer to God and one another?
John the Baptist comes on the scene blazing like a torch as he exhorts the people to repent of their sins. He minces no words with the Pharisees and Sadduccees; rather, he makes it clear that the path to God leads through the good fruit of our actions.
John is blunt and direct. There is no spin in his message, no soft touch. He comes to us as a verbal bulldozer, seeking to carve out a direct route that leads to the Lord. I can only imagine what it was like to be in his presence, eager to hear his words yet feeling the sting of his speech. After all, repentance is a great thing to talk about…but often painful to put into practice.
And yet nothing brings about healing faster than forgiveness. When relationships are wounded and we find ourselves in a broken and fragile place, repentance clears the ground and allows us to rebuild our lives in an honest and direct fashion.
Repentance has some key components:
- Knowing good from bad
- Taking ownership for when our actions have been bad
- Seeking to turn away from the bad and strive to embrace the good
- Claiming the mercy and grace of God to renew our lives
- Asking for forgiveness and putting it into practice
As we prepare in this Advent season for the birth of the Messiah, we have the opportunity to examine our hearts and consider what is not worthy of the Lord. Using a good examination of conscience or just the common sense in our souls we have the chance today to repent of our sins, seek forgiveness from God and one another, and live each day in the light and power of Christ.
John tells us that while he baptizes for repentance, the Lord will baptize us in Spirit and fire – allowing us to draw into the very heart of God’s love. Only through repentance will we be able to encounter the burning intensity of divine charity; for when we stand before the Lord whatever is not fitting will burn away. May we cast out whatever is not worthy, and prepare to welcome His holy fire with open hearts.
St. John the Baptist Preaching, Luca Giordano, 1695.