2nd Sun Advent B
Christian conversion is promoted by conversation. This section is a response to and a development on the knowledge gained from the commentary section.
This Sunday's Exposition
Change – we all need it but often we can be unsure of what we truly need. Advent is a time offering us hope and the promise of new things, but we can well ask ourselves what practical measures we can take to allow God’s grace to enter our lives.
This Sunday’s Gospel offers us two interlocking and integral parts of a programme of spiritual change: admission of sin and the notion of repentance. The two go together and are preparation for real and lasting change. The word used for ‘sin’ in this this Sunday’s Gospel has its roots in archery and the idea of an arrow missing the mark as can happen when an archer aiming for the goal is distracted or disturbed and sends the arrow off course. So we, who are made in God’s image and who are to reflect God’s love, often get disturbed and distracted in the way we live our lives. Our lives go off course, sometimes disastrously. Focussing on the mess can be disillusioning and counterproductive – what we need to do is to look at the cause and this is where repentance comes in.
Repentance is another word where study of the origin bears rich insight. It originally meant ‘change of mind and heart’. When we repent we change the attitudes that cause us to act in destructive and sinful ways. What could this mean? I once read of a priest who wanted to ask people in confession why they did the things they confessed. For example, a mother who confessed being angry with her children maybe would answer that question, ‘because they were naughty.’ If that were so, he would question whether her actions were a sin. But if she answered ‘because I was hurt by my husband,’ then he could answer, ‘that is the issue that caused your sin’ or, in the imagery from above, ‘that is what made your miss the mark.’
As we hear the call of John the Baptist this week, let us take time to realistically consider our lives and where we need to be open to the grace of God to straighten our twisted and crooked ways so that our hearts may truly aim for the fullness of God’s life and love.