The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He fed on locusts and wild honey. And this is what he proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord, you have given me a new day. You have given me a new opportunity to prepare myself for your coming. I believe that you will be with me as I continue my preparation for your coming. My heart is too often divided and pulled in many directions, but I wish to set my heart totally on you so that I may love you above all else. Here I am, Lord, to know you and love you more.
Petition: Lord, help me to embrace the proper means to prepare myself for your birth.
1. John’s Preparation: John the Baptist ate locusts and wild honey. He wore a camel’s skin and lived in the desert. In this manner he prepared himself for Christ’s coming. He had removed himself from the world and all its temptations. He had forfeited his home, family, friends, money, food—anything that would take him from fulfilling his call to prepare the way of the Lord. Compared with John, how deep is my commitment? What price am I prepared to pay to be his messenger?
2. John’s Preaching: John invites sinners to repentance. Thousands flock to hear him. His words move the people to listen. Probably more so does his example: the people see him living in the desert without the comforts of the world. By his actions they see he is truly a prophet. He has come before them so he can rightly call them to conversion. His life has strength and meaning that is not found in others. If we could be authentic and lead by our example, how many more people would be moved to follow Christ!
3. John’s Repentance: Those who recognize their sins go to John to be baptized. For John, baptism is a symbol of repentance: the people recognize their sins and ask God for forgiveness. John knows that he cannot forgive sins, but he realizes that it is important for everyone to take the step of being sorry and asking God to forgive them. John tells us clearly that it is Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who will forgive sins. He doesn’t try to obtain forgiveness in another way. He doesn’t try to circumvent God’s plan. God has given us the sacrament of confession for the forgiveness of our sins. How often do I take advantage of it? Am I faithful to frequent confession, or perhaps do I look elsewhere for the grace that only comes from confession?
Conversation with Christ: Lord, often I fall into the ways of the world, letting myself get caught up in its comforts and vanities. Teach me that only one thing matters: you and the life you promised us. Help me to use this Advent to prepare for your coming by detaching myself from the ways of the world and by being an example of Christian living for those whom I encounter. Help me to be always faithful to my frequent confession.
Resolution: Today I will make a sacrifice, foregoing a comfort or something I really like, and offer it up to God in reparation for sins––especially my own.