Humbly submit your will to God (Thy Will be done) and consecrate yourself to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through Mary and Joseph.
John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea
and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said:
A voice of one crying out in the desert,
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
John wore clothing made of camel’s hair
and had a leather belt around his waist.
His food was locusts and wild honey.
At that time Jerusalem, all Judea,
and the whole region around the Jordan
were going out to him
and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River
as they acknowledged their sins.
When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees
coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers!
Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.
And do not presume to say to yourselves,
‘We have Abraham as our father.’
For I tell you,
God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees.
Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit
will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
I am baptizing you with water, for repentance,
but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.
I am not worthy to carry his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand.
He will clear his threshing floor
and gather his wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” MT 3:1-12
The Scriptures reveal two things today through John the Baptist the last great prophet who ushers Christ into the world: we are sinners and need a Savior and we will be judged. Would we have been one who would listen to John the Baptist, “Repent of your sins and be baptized” or would we be the Pharisees and Sadducees and look at John the Baptist as a crazy man. There is one way to find out or one benchmark to look at to see which we are, how often do you go to confession. Jesus gave Peter and the Apostles the keys of reconciliation to be instruments and allow God to forgive sins through them, ““If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” Jn 20:23
When we go to confession the priest in persona Christi (in the person of Christ) extends his hand over us and says, “God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit. The penitent answers: Amen.
Repent means to change your life, empty self and put on Christ, fighting Satan and your fallen human nature to be holy which is perfect in God’s eyes. We have the Eucharist, God Himself, and Reconciliation to aid us on our path to heaven. The Catholic ER (Eucharist Reconciliation) for our soul.
Do you believe that Jesus died and rose from the dead? You can’t be Christian otherwise. Search for answers in the resurrection. Read a book about it. Do you believe you are a son or daughter of God through baptism? This is your solid foundation and identity. Reflect on it. It is a very special and unique identity. Do you believe you are a brother or sister of Jesus Christ through baptism? He will never abandon you and will fight for you. He died for you. Do you believe you have the Holy Spirit in you to guide you if you let Him? Come Holy Spirit, three of the most powerful words of any prayer.
I want to belong to something. As humans, we love brands. Think of all of the brands of clothing, sportswear, jewelry, and now social media outlets. Jesus Christ branded Himself onto us at Baptism. As baptized Christians, our brand is the Cross. The Cross was the most excruciating (crucifixion) instrument of torture the world has ever seen. For Christians, after the resurrection, it has become an instrument of love and forgiveness. Bishop Barron said, “We killed God with our sins and he came back with loving forgiveness”. The resurrection means that there is a life after this, that no tyrant can rule over us, and in principle, heaven is open to everyone according to Bishop Barron’s Easter sermon. This is what Advent and Christmas are preparing us for, Lent and Easter, says Fr. Thomas Hoisington. Baptism, our brand of Christ on us, is this love and forgiveness that can never be take away. This is where we find our purpose and mission, our value and worth. We are so valuable to God and worth so much that He sent His only Son into the world to die for us. Wow, mind blowing! That is what I want to belong to, be filled up with, and share with others!
God has paid the price with His Son on the cross. We have the power to repent, ask for forgiveness, and do what is almost impossible for humans: change. By the power of God in the sacraments and the Holy Spirit in us, we can change and be holy. Confession is part of the purification process in this difficult journey that only God’s grace can bring us to our eternal home. God also gave gifts to doctors, counselors, and many who have written books that have overcame sin/addictions, struggle with anger, anxiety, depression, pride, etc. God wants to use your family members and others in your life to guide you as you cooperate with His Will to overcome your sin.
We will be judged and we do not know the day or the hour the master will return. Be ready! We have been warned. But, most importantly, we have been given the gift of life to live and be holy now until Christ returns. What a great adventure!
Today’s challenge: Go to confession to prepare the way of the Lord in your life. Make a goal to visit Christ in confession every month from now on. Do not receive the Eucharist if you have serious sin on your soul. The saints received the Eucharist daily if possible and went to confession sometimes daily.
Pope Francis: “God never tires of forgiving, we tire of asking for forgiveness.”
Be a servant, become a saint!