Advent is well underway, and as you know the two themes of the season are that of preparation for the celebration of Christ’s first coming at Christmas and preparation for the second coming of Christ. As I mentioned in last week’s homily, this season is considered one of joyful preparation. However, for some, this season is one which reminds them of the sadness of the loss of someone special or the breakup of a relationship. Some feel overly burdened by the weight of expectation and materialism of the secular part of Christmas. For others the sadness and difficulties find themselves rooted in the pervasiveness of sin. For all these people, Advent can be especially challenging.
This is where the Church comes in. While we may not be able to solve the struggles of others, we can certainly play a role in reminding one another of God’s unwavering love for each of us. We can lend an ear to listen and offer a hand to help. We can make a simple phone call to let those we love know how much we care. We can offer gifts of money or food to our nearby agencies that help out the poor. We can invite them over to our house for a meal or anonymously give them something they need. This past week, my sister and her friend came to visit me and spent their entire time helping clean and unpack the majority of items that have been stored away until now. They even decorated the parish house for Christmas. I am so thankful. God is good. So, you see, there are many things we can do, big and small, that can let others know of God’s amazing love.
A really potent way to prepare during Advent is to make an effort to reconcile oneself with God. Imagine no longer being haunted by the guilt of the sin which has beset itself in your life. Imagine the freedom and joy that can be yours by simply letting God know your sins through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is amazing how much our sadness or anger can be relieved by the outpouring of God’s love and grace in Reconciliation. Almost without fail, people report that it is their least favorite Sacrament. This is understandable. However, don’t let that fear keep you away. Once you go and receive absolution from the priest in the name of Christ, remember the joy that you feel immediately afterwards. Isn’t that worth it? Now imagine that joy continuing through the days and weeks ahead. What a wonderful Christmas you could have. This coming Wednesday at 7:00 PM, we will be offering our annual Advent Communal Reconciliation Service. We will have seven to eight priests on hand. As a community, we will hear the scriptures which will help us realize the sins with which we struggle as well as the desire by God to wash them all away. We will offer a communal Act of Contrition, so no worries if you have forgotten it. Then finally, everyone will be given the opportunity to confess their sins and receive God’s life transforming forgiveness. Come and be reconciled. Come and be made whole for Christmas. What a gift that will be for you and your loved ones!
Fr. William Holtzinger